Centennial, Colorado (CNN) – Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama of infringing upon Americans’ religious rights in a fiery address to more than 2,500 supporters Monday in Colorado.
“The Creator gave every human being his rights,” Romney told the audience, to sustained cheers. “I’m just distressed as I watch our president try and infringe upon our rights.”
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In recent weeks the GOP frontrunner has signaled he would attack the president over the charge his administration has rolled back the rights of religious individuals and institutions. Romney went further at his Monday rally and publicly detailed specific examples of Obama’s “violation of conscience.”
Romney cited a new policy from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that requires some religious institutions, including schools and hospitals, to provide coverage of birth control to their employees.
Outraged opposition to the mandatory contraceptive coverage is gaining steam among many Catholics and conservatives, who charge the requirement is a violation of religious rights.
“Think what that does to people who are in faiths that do not share those views. This is a violation of conscience,” Romney said. “We must have a president who is willing to protect America’s first right, our right to worship God.”
Opponents point to a law passed while Romney was governor of Massachusetts that required hospitals–including Catholic ones–to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.
A spokeswoman for the campaign said Romney had vetoed the original bill. That veto was overruled by the state legislature.
"The governor's position on this law was that it never should have gone into effect in the first place, which is why he vetoed it," Romney spokesman Andrea Saul said.
In Colorado, Romney also pointed to a unanimous Supreme Court decision in January that gave religious institutions wider leeway in determining who could qualify as a “ministerial employee.” At issue was a teacher at a Michigan religious school who tried to sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act after she was fired.
The woman lost her suit when the high court determined she was indeed a “minister” under a narrow reading of the law and the specific circumstances of her duties.
“Did you understand that this administration argued before the Supreme Court that a church should not be able to determine who their ministers are, but the government should decide who qualifies to be a minister?” Romney asked incredulously Monday as the audience booed.
–CNN's William Mears and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.