Bachmann, Pawlenty, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum For Marriage Amendment, Not Cain or Paul

June 14, 2011 - 10:31 AM

Republican presidential debate

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn.), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney before the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Monday, June 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

(CNSNews.com) - Five of the seven Republican presidential candidates participating in a debate in New Hampshire last night said they would favor a constitutional amendment to define marriage in the United States as between a man and a woman.

Only businessman Herman Cain and Rep. Ron Paul said they did not favor an amendment.

New Hampshire Union Leader reporter John DiStaso raised the marriage issue by asking Rep. Michele Bachmann whether she would come into the state of New Hampshire as president and campaign to overturn the state's law allowing same-sex marriage.

"I'm running for the presidency of the United States. And I don't see that it's the role of a president to go into states and interfere with their state laws," Bachmann said initially. Later, she clarified that she is for a constitutional marriage amendment.

"I do support a constitutional amendment on marriage between a man and a woman, but I would not be going into the states to overturn their state law," she said.

CNN's John King then asked the other candidates: "Are you a George W. Bush Republican, meaning a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, or a Dick Cheney who [believes] ... this decision, same sex marriage, should be a state's decision?"

"State's decision," said former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain.

"I support a constitutional amendment to define marriage between a man and woman," said former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. "I was the co-author of the state, a law in Minnesota, to define it and now we have courts jumping over this."

Ron Paul said marriage was not the federal government's role, or even the local government's role.

"The federal government shouldn't be involved," said Paul. "I wouldn't support an amendment. But let me suggest one of the ways to solve this ongoing debate about marriage, look up in the dictionary. We know what marriage is all about.

"But then, get the government out of it," said Paul. "Why doesn't it go to the church? And why doesn't it to go to the individuals? I don't think government should give us a license to get married. It should be in the church."

King then asked former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney whether he believed it should be a "constitutional amendment or state decision?"

"Constitutional," said Romney.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R.-Ga.) said he believed that if the federal Defense of Marriage Act failed there would be no alternative but a constitutional amendment to protect marriage.

"Well, I helped author the Defense of Marriage Act which the Obama administration should be frankly protecting in court," said Gingrich. "I think if that fails, at that point, you have no choice except the constitutional amendment."

Santorum, who supports a constitutional amendment, pointed out that such an amendment would not cirucmvent the states because the states would need to ratify it.

"Constitutional amendment," said Santorum. "Look, the constitutional amendment includes the states. Three-quarters of the states have to ratify it. So the states will be involved in this process. We should have one law in the country with respect to marriage. There needs to be consistency on something as foundational as what marriage is."

The debate was sponsored by CNN, WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader.