Oklahoma City (CNN) - Mitt Romney reaffirmed his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, hours after the Wednesday announcement by President Barack Obama in support of same-sex marriage.
The presumptive GOP nominee told reporters he believed states should have the ability to extend some rights to gay couples, short of marriage.
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"States are able to make decisions with regard to domestic partnership benefits such as hospital visitation rights, benefits and so forth, of various kinds can be determined state by state, but my view is that marriage itself is a relationship between a man and a woman and that's my own preference," he said at the Oklahoma Republican Party headquarters in Oklahoma City. "This is a very tender and sensitive topic as are many social issues, but I have the same view that I've had since running for office."
Responding to a growing media stir over his stance on gay marriage, President Obama said on ABC News he supported the right of same-sex couples to marry.
His announcement came a day after voters in North Carolina resoundingly approved an amendment to the state's constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
While North Carolina joined a swath of swing states - including Virginia, Florida, Nevada and Ohio - in passing traditional marriage legislation, a Gallup poll released in early May showed Americans are split over the issue.
Romney has long hewn to a conservative stance on marriage, though as Massachusetts governor he reached out to gay rights groups with pledges of support on other issues.
This campaign cycle he signed a National Organization for Marriage pledge in support of a federal marriage amendment.
Even before Obama's comments Wednesday, Romney reiterated his opposition to expanding marital rights to same-sex couples.
"Well when these issues were raised in my state of Massachusetts, I indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name," Romney told Colorado news station KDVR. "My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights, and the like are appropriate but that the others are not."
Following Romney's press conference, Obama's reelection campaign immediately seized on Romney's remarks.
Spokesman Ben LaBolt tweeted: "@MittRomney just refused to say he supports hospital visitation rights at a federal level for gays and lesbians."