Rick Santorum on Bruce Jenner: ‘If he says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman’

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum AP

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, a likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate who has previously compared same-sex marriages to bestiality and pedophilia and is a vocal opponent of LGBT rights, says he would “love and accept” Bruce Jenner as he transitions from male to female.

Santorum told BuzzFeed News during a media roundtable at Saturday’s South Carolina Republican Party’s convention than he believes Jenner when he says he’s a woman.

Jenner’s gender transition was made public in an ABC News interview with Diane Sawyer last month.

Via BuzzFeed News:

“If he says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman,” Santorum, who is weighing running for president again in 2016, said in response to a question from BuzzFeed News during a roundtable with reporters at the South Carolina Republican Party’s convention.

“My responsibility as a human being is to love and accept everybody. Not to criticize people for who they are. I can criticize, and I do, for what people do, for their behavior. But as far as for who they are, you have to respect everybody, and these are obviously complex issues for businesses, for society, and I think we have to look at it in a way that is compassionate and respectful of everybody.”

Santorum deferred on the question of whether transgender individuals should be allowed to use restrooms based on the gender they identify, saying it’s something the “business community and local agencies and organizations should deal with.”

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Update: On Sunday, Santorum posted this follow-up message on Facebook:

Many of you may have read a story published by the website BuzzFeed where I was asked for my thoughts regarding Bruce Jenner. My comment affirmed Jenner as a person, made by God in His likeness as we all are. It was meant to express empathy not a change in public policy. ‪#‎compassion‬

Catholic blogger Lisa Graas reports that she contacted Santorum by email and he expressed to “some points that got lost in the shuffle by Buzzfeed.”

“I am not going argue with him [Bruce Jenner] as to whether he is a man or a woman,” Santorum reportedly told Graas. “He is obviously biologically male and that cannot change.”

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