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Same-Sex Marriage Follows Rick Santorum Around New Hampshire

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DUBLIN, N.H. -- Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum hosted a town hall meeting at the Dublin School on Friday afternoon, once again having to field questions about his far-right positions on social issues from students.

The first question posed to Santorum focused on same-sex marriage and the rights of LGBT individuals. The issue has been the main topic during Santorum's talks with students, including at the College Convention in Concord, N.H. on Thursday when Santorum compared marriage equality to polygamy.

"It's not an inalienable right," Santorum said about marriage on Friday. "It's a privilege that is given to society, by society, for a reason. Because there is an intrinsic benefit to society to hold up men and women to come together, to be encouraged to be married, to get privileges and honor in society."

The good to society, he argued, was "giving every child in America their birthright, which is being raised by their own mother and father. So we want to encourage what is the best for children."

Two other students attempted to ask Santorum about LGBT rights, but he told them he had already addressed the issue.

Mario Flores, the chair of the music department at the Dublin School, showed up wearing a handwritten sign around his neck that read, "A gay man in the pursuit of happiness." He said he wanted Santorum to rethink his position on LGBT issues.

"I think the Dublin School is a wonderful place that is all about tolerance and courage and truth," he told The Huffington Post. "I'm obviously out. They're more than okay with it. I live here on campus with my partner as well. We believe in diversity, we believe in tolerance, and that's the kind of country that my mother brought me from El Salvador to...live my life happily in."

After the event, when questioned by reporters about whether he is sick of being asked about same-sex marriage, Santorum replied, "I mean, there are always people who ask that question. I do my best to answer it as directly as possible. It's not like I haven't answered it a few times. My guess is I'll answer it a few more."

A reporter then said that Santorum seemed irritated by the repeated questions.

"Why do you say that? I'm not irritated," Santorum said. "I don't understand why people say I'm irritated. Look at my demeanor. I'm not irritated. I just answered the question."

Alison Poirier, a senior at the school, asked Santorum about women's reproductive rights, a topic that has not come up as frequently at his public events.

"I read that you're opposed to birth control and abortion," she said. "So what's going to happen when you take away abortion and birth control, and you have a bunch of pregnant girls, and they're not fit to take care of them? Are they going to put them all up for adoption, and only let straight couples adopt them? What's going to happen when someone gets raped at like, 14, and gets pregnant? Because I've been sexually harassed -- and that's not really a fun option. I don't want to have a baby anytime soon. I'm not married, I'm not responsible enough for a kid."

"You've been reading things that don't reflect my position now or ever on the issue of contraception," Santorum replied.

He said that he and his wife do not use "artificial contraception" because it is against the teachings of the Roman Catholic faith.

"That is my moral judgment, but it is not one that I feel that should be, or will be, imposed on anyone. So I would not vote -- and I've said this repeatedly, although this doesn't seem to make it into the left-wing blogs -- I have said repeatedly I would not vote for banning contraception," he added. "That is an individual decision. Contraception can and should be made available. ... Understand that just because you say something you believe is morally wrong, doesn't mean it should be illegal or there should be any kind of laws about it. And I don't believe there should be any laws about it."

However, Santorum has said in the past he believes that same-sex marriage, abortion, gay adoption and gays serving openly in the military are things he is morally opposed to -- and things he does want outlawed. He has also said that if elected president, he would actively talk about "the dangers of contraception."

Santorum also addressed his disagreement with the Supreme Court's ruling in the 1965 case Griswold v. Connecticut, which struck down a law that criminalized the use of contraceptives by married couples.

"So with respect to contraception, I thought the Griswold decision was wrong -- I don't care if it was about contraception or anything else. It was just creating a right that didn't exist," he said, decrying the use of "judicial activism." "So did the state of Connecticut...have the right to pass this bill? Yes, they have the right. They shouldn't do it. I wouldn't vote for it."

After the town hall, Poirier said she was disappointed Santorum didn't address the second half of her question on abortion. She said she did quite a bit of research on the former senator's position before the event Friday.

"Everything he said online, he said he was against it," she said, "but today he said he was not against it. So I'm really confused by that."

Poirier said she does not plan on voting for Santorum, saying he was "a little too conservative" for her.

While Santorum's social conservatism earned him a significant amount of attention in Iowa -- where he finished in second place just eight points behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- town hall attendee Cynthia Niederhelman from Hancock, N.H., who said she was a "moderate" voter, said his positions were likely to be received differently in this state.

"I think we think more independently. I'm always afraid with a pro-lifer that they don't take individuals and individual circumstances into consideration," she said. "I'm not necessarily for or against gay marriage. I feel that everybody has legal rights...so I have to hear more of that from him. I want things on an individual basis -- choosing something that's good for a lot of people, but taking individuals into consideration."

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