Yesterday at a campaign stop in South Carolina, a woman who's the mother of a gay son asked Rick Santorum to help her resolve the guilt she feels about supporting him. Her guilt, of course, stems from the fact that Rick Santorum has not been a friend to the gay community, to put it mildly. And the gays haven't exactly been mum about their feelings on Santorum either. But what if all this hate between the two sides was just a terrible misunderstanding? It is, if you believe the answers that Rick and his wife Karen gave to the mom's question. It turns out Santorum is nothing but a big ol' sweater-vested bag of love for the gays—if you see wanting them to deny equal rights and equating their relationships to polygamy as a sign of affection, that is.

Santorum has faced increasingly strenuous questions about his position on gay marriage since his campaign kicked into high gear, but the questioning he faced yesterday was not exactly of the hard-hitting variety. The mother started out by saying she's supported Santorum since the beginning, and then she came out with this:

My youngest son is gay. I debated for the longest time how to handle my support of you because what he's been hearing is "Oh, Rick Santorum hates gays." Interestingly enough, we had a short conversation and he said, "Well, actually, I don't have any problems with his stance on gay marriage because I don't believe in gay marriage." But I still have that sense of guilt because his friends react to what they hear. Help me. How do I deal with that?

Jesus, there are a whole lot of conflicted feelings going on all over the place here. Help her, Rick! Help us all! But, in fact, it's his wife Karen who jumps in to offer her interesting take on the situation:

As Rick's wife, I have known and loved him for 23 years and I think it's very sad what the gay activists have done out there. They've vilified him, and it's so wrong. Rick does not hate anyone. He loves them. What he has simply said is marriage shouldn't happen.

Ohhh, well why didn't you just say that from the start, Kare-Bear? Actually, we really should have been able to figure it out ourselves, because nothing says "I love you" like telling someone that they shouldn't have the same rights as other people and that were they to fall in love and have children, it would endanger the future of our nation. It's kind of like how the founders of our country didn't give black people and women the right to vote because they loved us so much that they knew they had to protect us from ourselves!

Anyway, now we know: Rick Santorum doesn't hate anyone. It's a simple case of character assassination perpetrated by a cabal of gay bullies, according to Karen:

As far as hating, it's very unfortunate that that has happened. A lot of it is backyard bullying where people will come up, and they'll say something, and then we'll ask them to give an example, and they can't even provide one example as to why they took the position they took.

It'd be nice if she could have provided an example of what she means exactly, but, alas, she stopped there and passed it off to Rick, who doubled down on the not hating anybody bit:

This is not an issue of not doing what I'm called to do, which is to love everyone and accept everybody and, uh, but this is a public policy difference. I think the problem is that some see that public policy difference as a personal assault.

Ahh, so this is just a classic case of people taking business personally. Seriously, it's just public policy, guys, chill out. Ughhhhhh X 1000. If you feel like breaking something, sit on your hands, because he only makes it worse the more he talks in run-on, Sarah-Palinesque sentences:

I believe that marriage, which has existed before governments existed, marriage existed from the very beginning of time. It's the way we were meant to be. The reason governments include marriage in their laws is because we need to encourage what is best for mothers and fathers and children, which is for them to be together and give every child their birth right which is to know and be loved by their mom and dad. And if we don't hold that up as something society is for and encouraging and promoting then we will get less of it, and we will be in a sense denying children what is best for them.

That paragraph is like a giant Jenga tower of logic. I'm afraid to touch it because it feels like if I move one little piece, the whole thing will come tumbling down. Seriously, though, I don't remember reading the part of the constitution—or even the Bible—that says you have an inalienable right to know and be loved by your mother and father. But even if that was the case, there's plenty of research that shows that gay parents are just as capable—and in some cases more capable—of being good parents and bestowing the benefits of that on society. LiveScience has a good roundup of the research here, but, sadly, it probably won't do much to change Mr. Santorum's mind.

The good news is that even though he might not believe in gay marriage, he does totally believe that gay people—and all people—are welcome to have various kinds of special relationships:

There's all sorts of other relationships that people have, and they are valuable relationships. Whether they're amorous relationships or friendship relationships or familial relationships, they're all important, they all have value, they all should be affirmed, but that does not mean that we should change the laws to order, to create an atmosphere where children and families are not being promoted.

Well, with special friends like Santorum, who needs enemies? I'm sure, after all this, the poor, conflicted mother is feeling A-OK about throwing herself fully behind Santorum—because he loves the gays, he really does, and he just wants the children to be happy.

Mom asks Santorum what to tell her gay son [Washington Examiner]
Why Gay Parents May Be the Best Parents [Live Science]