Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) cracked a joke about President Obama's position on gay marriage Friday. Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, criticized the remark on a Sunday talk show.
"The president, you know, recently weighed in on marriage. And, you know, he said his views were evolving on marriage. Call me cynical, but I don't think his views on marriage could get any gayer," Paul said to big laughs at an Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition dinner.
When asked about the remarks on CBS' "Face the Nation," Perkins answered that the marriage issue is not something to joke about and both sides should be civil as they debate.
"I don't think it's a laughing matter. I don't think it's something we should joke about. We're talking about individuals who feel very strongly one way or the other. I think we should be civil, respectful, allowing all sides to have the debate," Perkins said.
The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition advocates social conservative positions in Iowa. Family Research Council is the largest organization representing social conservatives at the national level.
Rand Paul is the son of Texas congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. The younger Paul is sometimes mentioned as a potential vice presidential pick for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney as a way to welcome Ron Paul's more libertarian supporters into the Republican camp.
President Obama had been opposed to same-sex marriage since the time he was a U.S. senator, but last week announced that he had changed his position and now favors same-sex marriage. Before that announcement he had made several decisions that were applauded by gay rights advocates. For instance, he decided not to defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law defining marriage as between one man and one woman, and he helped get a law through Congress that allows gay military personnel to serve openly.
Rand Paul also criticized Obama for using the Golden Rule to justify his position on gay marriage.
"It did bother me though that he used the justification for it in a biblical reference," Paul said. "He said the biblical Golden Rule caused him to be for gay marriage. And I'm like, what version of the Bible is he reading? It's not the King James version, it's not the New American Standard, it's not the New Revised version."
The different opinions on marriage do not mean that social conservatives "have to be harsh and mean and hate people," he added.
"We understand sin and if we believe it's a sin, we still are [sinners] and people sin," Paul said. "We're not out there preaching some sort of hateful dogma against people. But that doesn't mean that we have to go ahead and give up our traditions."