imageKaren Handel, her conservative bona fides under fire for once being chatty with gay Republicans, took pains on Wednesday to stress that she’s just as anti-gay—if not more so—than her competitors.

Handel (photo) is locked in a tough three-way race with Nathan Deal and John Oxendine to grab one of two top spots in Tuesday’s primary for the GOP nomination for governor. In the last few days, Oxendine and Deal have attacked Handel for her support of some gay issues while she campaigned for and served on the Fulton County Commission.

Handel has disavowed any past support for LGBT issues, an effort that earned her the label of “Pants on Fire!” from the AJC. On Wednesday, apparently emboldened by Sarah Palin’s endorsement, she elevated her new-found anti-gay stands into a crusade against gay marriage, civil unions and even adoptions by gay couples, which Handel said she would support banning as governor.

Her comments came during a sometimes testy interview with 11Alive’s Doug Richards.

Q: You have said that you are—you’re against gay marriage, right?
A: Mm hm. Absolutely. Marriage is between one man and one woman. And I’ve been very very clear about that. And the record is clear about any of the other issues like domestic partner benefits or anything like that. In fact in Fulton, I voted no on domestic partner benefits.

Q: Are you against civil unions for gays?
A: Yes. I think that’s not an issue that has come forward in Georgia. We have the constitutional amendment against gay marriage, and I don’t want to see any taxpayer funding going toward benefits etcetera for a couple that is not married. In our state and for me, marriage is for one man and one woman.

Q: Why is that?
A: Why is marriage between one man and one woman? (Laughs). Are you serious?

Q: Yes. Well why—do you view committed gay relationships as being less legitimate than committed heterosexual relationships?
A: As a Christian, I view relationships and marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Q: But what about the legitimacy of the relationship? Do you have any gay friends? Do you know gay couples?
A: Of course I do. Are we going to spend our whole day talking on this issue?

Q: I want to know how you feel about this.
A: I’ve been very clear. And you know, as a Christian, marriage is between a man and a woman. I do not think that gay relationships are—they are not what God intended. And that’s just my viewpoint on it. Others might disagree with that. But I would also hope that if you look at what is happening in our state, we’ve got issues we need to be focused on in Georgia. We have a constitutional amendment against gay marriage. And it’s something that I supported wholeheartedly. We have that, and let’s get dealing with the other issues that we also need to deal with in Georgia. And the press can help with that. (Laughs).

Q: Frequently, folks in the legislature kind of threaten to—there are always rumblings in the legislature that they may outlaw gay adoptions. You’re against gay adoption.
A: I am against gay adoption. But remember—I mean, if there is legislation on that, certainly I will follow that and look at it. But in the end, ultimately courts are going to be the ones to have to make the decision on that and it’s always in the best interests of the child. Do I think that gay parents is in the best interest of the child? No. But we do have our court system that deals with many and most of those issues.

Q: Would you favor outlawing gay adoptions?
A: Yeah, I would consider that, absolutely.

Q: Do you know any gay couples with children?
A: Not that I’m aware of.

Q: So you think gay couples are less qualified to function as parents than straight couples?
A: I think that for a child to be in a household—in a family in a household with a situation where the parents are not married, as in one man and one woman, is not the best household for a child.

Q: Is it better or worse than a single parent household?
A: Doug, I’m really trying to be straightforward with you but I’m not going to debate all the nuances. I’ve made it abundantly clear that I think that marriage is between a man and a woman. And that’s what I believe, and I don’t know what more you would like me to add to that.