Rick Santorum: Marriage Is Like a Napkin, Not a Paper Towel

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com August 09 2011 2:15 PM ET

Rick Santorum tried again to explain why gays shouldn't be allowed to get married, and this time he went all "metaphysical."

The San Francisco Chroniclecaught the moment on tape as Santorum stood before a small gathering of Iowans at a Hy-Vee grocery store, where customers filled drink cups and went on about their business while he spoke. The former Pennsylvania senator needed to get the voters' attention.

"This," he said suddenly, "is a napkin."

Santorum appears to yank a brown piece of paper, which might very well be a napkin, from a nearby dispenser.

"I can call this napkin a paper towel," he said. "But it is a napkin. And why? Because it is what it is. Right? You can call it whatever you want, but it doesn't change the character of what it is."

Santorum said his reasoning was "sort of the metaphysical. Right?"

No one can be heard on the tape in response.

"So when people come out and say that marriage is something else — marriage is the marriage of five people, five, 10, 20. Marriage can be between fathers and daughters. Marriage can be between any two people, any four people, any 10 people, it can be any kind of relationship and we can call it marriage. But it doesn't make it marriage. Why? Because there are certain qualities and certain things that attach to the definition of what marriage is."

And then he held the "napkin" up again to drive home the point.