Gay Republicans have welcomed the defeat of Republican Senator Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania.

He was ousted by Democrat Bob Casey, seen as gay-friendly, in a result welcomed by the Log Cabin Republicans.

The Log Cabin Republicans described the result as a sign that Pennsylvania voters were overwhelmingly rejected the politics of division, intolerance, and fear.

Mr Santorum had been one of the architects of the Federal Marriage Amendment which would constitutionally ban same sex marriage.

“Senator Santorum made a career out of marginalising gay and lesbian families. Pennsylvanians rejected this strategy and turned their backs on the politics of division,” said Log Cabin Pennsylvania State Chairman Michael Stara.

“This should be a lesson to all Republican leaders: voters want to support candidates who appeal to their best hopes, not their worst fears.”

Mr Santorum lost to Democrat Bob Casey. In the last weeks of his campaign, he returned to his trump card, anti-gay politics. “Instead of focusing on federal spending, limiting the scope of government, or making the case for an aggressive war on terror, Senator Santorum tried to use the recent New Jersey Supreme Court decision to scare voters, but his tactics failed,” said Log Cabin Executive Vice President Patrick Sammon.

“Santorum pushed fair-minded voters in Pennsylvania away from the Party. Unfortunately, his divisive politics hurt the re-election prospects of several incumbent Republican members of Congress.”

As a two-term Senator and the third-highest ranking Republican in the Senate, Mr Santorum often made headlines for his intolerant remarks about gay families. In 2003, while talking about the impending Lawrence v Texas Supreme Court decision, he compared homosexuality to bestiality.

In 2004, he was a leading senate advocate for the anti-family federal marriage amendment-once even comparing gay people to terrorists when he said the amendment was “the ultimate homeland security.”

“Santorum’s defeat should be a wake-up call to the GOP leadership,” said Mr Sammon. “You win elections by addition not subtraction. Alienating mainstream Republicans and fair-minded independents is an equation for defeat. Our party must return to its core principles and reject the voices of intolerance who try to divide voters.”