In case there was any doubt about where the Republican field of presidential candidates stand on gay rights issues, last night's CNN debate should have cleared things up. When it came to basic rights for the LGBT community, there was really no debate at all.
All the candidates went further than just opposing same-sex marriage personally or for "religious reasons." Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum all said they supported a Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. constitution. Herman Cain (who opposes same-sex marriage), said it should be left up to the states and Ron Paul opposed it on libertarian grounds ("the government shouldn't be in the business of marriage at all").
Of course, recent polls show that the majority of Americans support same-sex marriage and relationship recognition for LGBT couples. A federal marriage amendment is even more unpopular and has been for years. The argument for a federal amendment flies in the face of the "small government" meme that permeated the debate and at times forced candidates to argue both for and against "states rights" (another favorite talking point of the night) in the same sentence.