The Republican Presidential hopeful Fred Thompson, who is considered “progressive” on gay rights, says he has met with social conservatives who will accept his position on gay marriage.

Mr Thompson is in favour of a constitutional amendment that bars judges from allowing gay marriages but that would allow state governments to legalise gay marriage.

“Everyone I have talked to in my meetings like this, the answer has been yes,” said Mr Thompson.

But Mr Thompson accepted that social conservatives do have reservations: “I think they prefer their own wording. They are primarily concerned about marriage being a union between a man and a woman.”

He added: “What I have done is fashion something that says judges can’t do that any more.”

“You’ve got to be awfully, awfully reticent to go in and do more than is absolutely necessary in terms of a constitutional amendment,” said Thompson. “They understand that and appreciate that and I think they think I have a good approach. I can say they think they have a better approach.”

Donald Downs of the University of Wisconsin told the United Press that the proposed amendment would be a “very strange” addition to the American Constitution.

A former actor, Mr Thomson represented Tennessee in the Senate from 1994 to 2003.

As well as his work on Law and Order, he is a well-know radio host in the US.

He has uttered some of the most memorable lines in modern movies, among them, “Shit, son, the Ruskies don’t take a dump without having a plan,” in The Hunt for Red October.

Thompson played similarly straight-talking characters in Days of Thunder and Die Hard 2: Die Harder