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Lance Wahlert, a doctoral candidate in English at Penn, left, and Philadelphia resident Craig Winkler kiss in front of Repent America member Michael Marcavage at a protest held in the wake of remarks made by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) concerning homosexua

A number of Penn students spent yesterday combining forces with gay-rights groups and others from around Philadelphia to protest recent controversial remarks made by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).

The protests shut down part of the intersection of Broad and Chestnut streets in front of Santorum's Philadelphia office between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Members of the Penn Democrats and Lambda Law, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group of the Law School, participated.

The pro-gay rights rally, sponsored by the Liberty City Democratic Club, was in protest of statements Santorum made comparing homosexuality to bigamy, incest, polygamy and adultery.

On April 7, in an Associated Press interview, Santorum said, "I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts."

He added, in reference to the U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas that is currently challenging a Texas anti-sodomy law, "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual 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."

On Tuesday, Santorum released a written statement clarifying the context of these remarks.

"When discussing the pending Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, my comments were specific to the right to privacy and the broader implications of a ruling on other state privacy laws," he said in the statement. "In the interview, I expressed the same concern as many constitutional scholars and discussed arguments put forward by the state of Texas, as well as Supreme Court justices. If such a law restricting personal conduct is held unconstitutional, so could other existing state laws."

In response to these statements, more than 200 protesters took to the street, bearing signs and chanting phrases that ranged from "Racist, sexist anti-gay, Rick Santorum go away" to the more direct call for "No more hate."

College senior and former College Democrats President Arshad Hasan, who organized the group's involvement in the rally, expressed frustration at the Republican Party's refusal to rebuff Santorum for his comments. He compared the issue to a similar incident this past fall when then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was rebuffed by Republican leaders for racially insensitive comments.

"The reason why Bush and Republican leaders condemned Trent Lott was because the public came out and said, 'We won't stand for this,'" Hasan said, "That's what we're trying to do now. It's about time Bush responds to this, too."

In a speech to the crowd, rally organizer Mike Marisco called for Santorum, the third-highest ranking Republican senator, to be demoted from his position and to resign from his post.

Anti-gay group Repent America was also present at the rally, passing out anti-gay fliers and holding signs praising Santorum.

"The senator is simply standing on God's truth," member Michael Marcavage said.

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