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Gay Groups Want Santorum Post Revoked After 'Insensitive' Remarks

Gay-rights groups, fuming over Sen. Rick Santorum's comparison of homosexuality to bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery, urged Republican leaders Monday to consider removing the Pennsylvania lawmaker from the GOP Senate leadership.

A coalition of groups in Washington and Pennsylvania compared Santorum's remarks to those by those last December by former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott about Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist campaign for the presidency. Shortly afterward, Lott was forced to resign as Republican Senate leader.

Santorum is chairman of the GOP conference in the Senate, third in his party's leadership, behind Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

"We're urging the Republican leadership to condemn the remarks. They were stunning in their sensitivity, and they're the same types of remarks that sparked outrage toward Sen. Lott," said David Smith, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay advocacy organization. "We would ask that the leadership reconsider his standing within the conference leadership."

In an interview with The Associated Press, Santorum criticized homosexuality while discussing a pending Supreme Court case over a Texas sodomy law.

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything," Santorum, R-Pa., said in the interview, published Monday.

Santorum's spokeswoman did not have an immediate comment to the criticism from the gay rights groups. The White House did not immediately return a call seeking comment, and a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Frist declined comment.

Lott resigned his post in December after making remarks at a 100th birthday celebration for Thurmond that were widely considered racially insensitive and condemned by the White House. Lott later apologized.

Among the groups condemning Santorum's remarks were the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, the Pennsylvania Log Cabin Republicans, OutFront, and the Pennsylvania Gender Rights Coalition.