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Romney urges grads to honor family commitment: 'Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman'

BY KASIE HUNT AND RACHEL ZOLL, ASSOCIATED PRESS

LYNCHBURG, Va. -- Mitt Romney's Mormon faith has shaped his life, but he barely mentioned it as he spoke to graduates at an evangelical Christian university Saturday.

And he barely touched on hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage, instead offering a broad-based defense of values like family and hard work.

"Culture - what you believe, what you value, how you live - matters," Romney told graduates gathered in the football stadium on Liberty University's campus in the Virginia mountains. "The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and at the foundation, the preeminence of the family."

Instead of a red-meat conservative policy speech, Romney discussed his own family and offered a defense of Christianity, saying that "there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action." Still, he was inclusive: "Men and women of every faith, and good people with none at all, sincerely strive to do right and lead a purpose-driven life," Romney said.

He had one sustained applause line in a 20-minute speech delivered days after President Barack Obama historically embraced gay marriage. "Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman," Romney said to a cheering crowd of students who have to follow a strict code of conduct that considers sex out of wedlock and homosexuality to be sins.

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