Mitt Romney, the presumptive U.S. Republican presidential nominee, drew rousing support Saturday at a conservative Christian university as he defended traditional marriage between a man and a woman.
Romney, often viewed with skepticism by the most conservative ranks of the Republican party, stressed the importance of personal faith and commitment to families in a speech to the graduating class at Liberty University in Virginia.
But days after U.S. President Barack Obama declared his support for legalizing same-sex marriages, Romney won his biggest cheers from the crowd of more than 30,000 with brief comments supporting heterosexual marriage.
“Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.”
Mr. Obama’s new support for same-gender marriage is controversial in the U.S., where six states and the District of Columbia have laws permitting men to marry each other and women to wed other women. But 31 states have banned it, including North Carolina in a referendum earlier this month. Nonetheless, surveys show that nationwide the acceptance of gay marriages is growing and that a slight majority favors it.
But the surveys also show there is a split politically, with Democrats, like Mr. Obama, lending widespread support for same-sex marriages, and Republicans mostly opposed. Younger voters also are more accepting, with older voters less so.
Mr. Obama, who is likely to face Romney in the November election, sought this week to use his new stance on the issue to rally supporters and raise campaign funds. But he did not discuss the issue in his weekly radio address Saturday.
Instead, the president again urged Congress to follow a “To-Do” list he says will boost job creation and the country’s sluggish economic recovery from the 2008 and 2009 recession. Later, at a White House ceremony, he honored a group of police officers as the nation’s “top cops” for their heroism in the line of duty.