Santorum’s Gay Adoption Mistake: Making Social Issue Into A ‘Privilege’

Republican Rick Santorum’s quixotic shot at the White House will be brought down by his ardent and archaic bigotry.

Santorum's Gay Adoption Mistake: Making Social Issue Into A 'Privilege'

Speaking like a red-blooded social conservative, potential presidential hopeful Rick Santorum told Iowa group The FAMiLY Leader yesterday that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt because parenthood is a “privilege,” rather than a right.

“A lesbian woman came up to me and said, ‘why are you denying me my right?,'” Santorum recalled. “I said, ‘well, because it’s not a right.’ It’s a privilege that society recognizes because society sees intrinsic value to that relationship over any other relationship.”

Though toeing a reliable right-wing line—the belief that same-sex couples shouldn’t adopt—the former Senator from Pennsylvania made a potentially disastrous linguistic mistake.

Aside from the fact that a majority of Americans support same-sex adoptions—about 53% of the nation favors allowing same-sex couple to adopt—Santorum’s wording runs into a conceptual problem for Americans, Republican and Democrat alike.

As many pollsters will tell you, the phrasing of LGBT-related questions can impact the results. For example, people are more inclined to answer “no” when asked, “Should LGBT Americans lose the right to marry?” Americans loathe the idea of taking away rights, freedoms or privileges.

Whichever term you prefer, denying one population something that another population enjoys goes against everything American citizens cherish, and Santorum’s phrasing makes clear that he’s employing a double-standard in his moralistic war against his LGBT countrymen.

Voters won’t back someone they perceive as restricting liberties, even if the subject is one as controversial and contentious as same-sex equality.

Not that they would have supported Santorum in the first place—there is no way this man will be elected president—but if the lawmaker wants to make a serious play for the White House, he should at least alter his rhetoric, because this outdated messaging no longer carries the emotional and political power it did when Santorum worked as a U.S. Senator from 1995-2007, the apex of the GOP’s fear mongering on social issues.