As the topic turned to social issues during last night's GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire, the opportunity came up for the GOP contenders to flex their conservative values on marriage and gays in the military.
Bachmann is asked by CNN's John King about her views on same-sex marriage and replies that children need a mother and father. When asked if she would repeal state laws legalizing same-sex marriage she gets a round of applause by saying that "it's not the role of a President to go into states and interfere with their state laws."
King then moves on to ask the candidates if they would support a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and if they would allow gays to serve openly in the military.
Watch and read a partial transcript, AFTER THE JUMP...
KING: On that point — on that point, to voters out there for whom this is an important issue, let’s try to quickly go through it. Let me start at this end, we’ll just go right through. I’ll describe it this way. Are you a George W. Bush Republican, meaning a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, or a Dick Cheney who, like I believe, the congresswoman just said, this should be made — this decision, same sex marriage, should be a state’s decision?
CAIN: State’s decision.
PAWLENTY: I support a constitutional amendment to define marriage between a man and woman. I was the co-author of the state — a law in Minnesota to define it and now we have courts jumping over this.
KING: OK. Let’s just go through this.
PAUL: The federal government shouldn’t be involved. 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. 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: Governor Romney, constitutional amendment or state decision?
KING: Mr. Speaker?
GINGRICH: Well, I helped author the Defense of Marriage Act which the Obama administration should be frankly protecting in court. I think if that fails, at that point, you have no choice except to (ph) constitutional amendment.
KING: We heard the congresswoman’s answer, Senator.
SANTORUM: Constitutional amendment. Look, the constitutional amendment includes the states. Three-quarters of the states have to — 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.
KING: Very quickly?
BACHMANN: John, I do support a constitutional amendment on — on marriage between a man and a woman, but I would not be going into the states to overturn their state law.
KING: All right, let me ask you another question. The Obama administration is in the process — and Leon Panetta, who’s the new defense secretary, will implement — essentially, the repeal of “don’t ask/don’t tell” so gays will be allowed to serve openly in the military. I want to ask each of you — and, again, if we can be quickly, because then we want to get to the voters question — if you were president — if you become president of the United States, now gays are allowed to serve openly in the military, would you leave that policy in place or would you try to change it, go back to “don’t ask/don’t tell,” or something else?
CAIN: If I had my druthers, I never would have overturned “don’t ask/don’t tell” in the first place. Now that they have changed it, I wouldn’t create a distraction trying to turn it over as president. Our men and women have too many other things to be concerned about rather than have to deal with that as a distraction.
KING: Leave it in place if you inherit the new Obama administration policy or try to overturn it?
PAWLENTY: John, we’re a nation in two wars. I think we need to pay deference to our military commanders, particularly our combatant commanders, and in this case, I would take my cues from them as to how this affects the military going forward. I know they expressed concerns — many of the combatant commanders did — when this was originally repealed by the Obama administration.
PAUL: I would not work to overthrow it. We have to remember, rights don’t come in groups. We shouldn’t have gay rights. Rights come as individuals. If we would (ph) have this major debate going on, it would be behavior that would count, not the person who belongs to which group.
KING: Leave it in place, what you inherit from the Obama administration or overturn it?
ROMNEY: Well, one, we ought to be talking about the economy and jobs. But given the fact you’re insistent, the — the answer is, I believe that “don’t ask/don’t tell” should have been kept in place until conflict was over.
KING: Mr. Speaker?
GINGRICH: Well, I think it’s very powerful that both the Army and the Marines overwhelmingly opposed changing it, that their recommendation was against changing it. And if as president — I’ve met with them and they said, you know, it isn’t working, it is dangerous, it’s disrupting unit morale, and we should go back, I would listen to the commanders whose lives are at risk about the young men and women that they are, in fact, trying to protect.
BACHMANN: I would — I would keep the “don’t ask/don’t tell” policy.
KING: So you would — whatever the Obama administration does now, you would go — try to go back? You’d try to reverse what they’re doing?
BACHMANN: I would, after, again, following much what the speaker just said, I would want to confer with our commanders-in-chief and with — also with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, because I’d want to know how it was being implemented and if it has — had had the detrimental effects that have been suggested that will come.
KING: All right. Last word on this issue, Senator?
SANTORUM: The job of the United States military is to protect and defend the people of this country. It is not for social experimentation. It should be repealed. And the commanders should have a system of discipline in place, as Ron Paul said, that punishes — that punishes bad behavior.