LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Friday he’s disappointed California’s Supreme Court has followed his home state’s highest court in legalizing gay marriage.

Addressing thousands at an annual convention of the National Rifle Association, the former Republican presidential contender said he was unhappy “to see one more time a one-vote majority of a state Supreme Court overturn the will of its people. That is simply wrong.”

He also declared that cultural values were under attack, at one point describing his philosophical opponents as “looney liberals.” As he spoke, he sported a flag pin on his suit lapel, a display of patriotism he did not follow during his campaign.

“Liberals try to substitute their values for the rights that are enumerated in the Constitution,” Romney said. “They try and put abortion rights and gay rights into the Constitution while at the same time taking out religious liberty and the Second Amendment. And it’s time for us to try to stop trying to substitute counterfeit values for the values that were written into the Constitution by the Founding Fathers.”

John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting, as well as former UN ambassador John Bolton and White House political adviser Karl Rove, also addressed the crowd.

Romney, however, offered special perspective on gay marriage because of his home state’s experience with the issue.

In November 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court – by a 4-3 vote, approved same-sex marriages. They began the following May. Romney supported an amendment to the state constitution to ban gay marriage, but the Legislature thwarted that effort.

Now, by an identical 4-3 vote, California’s high court has struck down laws barring gay marriages. Weddings could begin next month. Opponents say they will now seek a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Romney described Americans as “family oriented” and said the majority of them oppose gay marriage.

AP-ES-05-16-08 1652EDT

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