Mitt Romney has consistently opposed same-sex marriage , but he again expressed support for gay adoption on Thursday, calling it "fine" and noting that it's legal in his home state of Massachusetts. But he also stated his preference for every child to have a mother and a father.
"I believe marriage has been defined the same way for literally thousands of years by virtually every civilization in history and that marriage is literally by its definition a relationship between a man and a woman," he told Fox News' Neil Cavuto. "And that if two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship and even want to adopt a child, in my state individuals of the same sex were able to adopt children. In my view that's something that people have the right to do, but to call that marriage is, in my view, a departure of the real meaning of that word."
Romney has made statements in the past in support of gay adoption, something social conservatives oppose. He has been consistent in supporting it, but has called for an exemption for religious institutions that have adoption services.
At a debate in Arizona in February he defended the Catholic Church's stance in Massachusetts that would only place children up for adoption in homes with a mother and father. The state law declared it discrimination and the church stopped its adoption services.
"We have to have a president who's willing to say that the best opportunity an individual can give to their unborn child is an opportunity to be born in a home with a mother and a father," Romney said at the CNN debate. "We battled, for instance, to help the Catholic Church stay in the adoption business. The amazing thing was that while the Catholic Church was responsible for half the adoptions in my state - half the adoptions - they had to get out of that business because the legislature wouldn't support me and give them an exemption from having to place children in homes where there was a mom and a dad on a preferential basis."
In the past and even Thursday, Romney has made statements that are more open to the idea.
In October 2006, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Romney if "gays and lesbians should be able to adopt children."
Romney answered, "Well, they are able to adopt children," before Blitzer followed up and asked if he thinks "that's good?"
Romney answered, "And I'm not going to change that."
That same year, while governor of Massachusetts, Romney told the Boston Globe that gay couples have "a legitimate interest in being able to receive adoptive services."
Last October, Romney's campaign said it should be a state issue, something Romney seemed to infer in Friday's interview.
CNS News asked the campaign in October what the candidate's thoughts were on gay adoption, and Romney spokesperson Ryan Williams said it was an issue Romney believes "should be assessed on a state-by-state basis."
In response, Romney spokesman Williams said it was an issue Romney believed "should be assessed on a state-by-state basis" and referenced several statements the candidate has made on the matter.
That's something Romney also said in 1994, telling the Boston Herald he would leave it up to the states and saying he "would not oppose it or require it."
There are instances of a different attitude. In a 2003 speech in South Carolina, Romney told a conservative audience about same sex couples, "some are actually having children born to them."