The almost certain Republican candidate for this year's United States presidential election has used a speech at a conservative Christian university to re-state his belief that marriage should only be allowed between a man and a woman.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony at Liberty University, Mitt Romney avoided talking about his Mormon faith, but stressed the importance of religious values in American society. He got a standing ovation.
The speech comes days after President Barack Obama announced his support for same sex marriage.
It was seen as a politically risky move, especially in the South, where one in three swing voters strongly opposes allowing gays and lesbians to wed, the BBC reports.
Virginia is regarded as a key battleground in the election, to be held in November.
Mr Romney has so far struggled to gain support from evangelical Christians in his campaign for the Republican ticket.
While he opposes gay marriage, he has said that same-sex couples should have some rights, including the ability to adopt children.