Texas congressman and potential presidential aspirant Ron Paul told a religious conservative group in Iowa Monday that he supports the federal Defense of Marriage Act as a matter of states’ rights, but he seemed confused when asked about the court decision that brought marriage equality to that state.
Speaking to the group Family Leader in Pella, Paul said of DOMA, “I see that as an act that was prohibiting the move to nationalize [same-sex marriage] and force Iowa to accept the rules of Massachusetts or whatever,” The Des Moines Registerreports. DOMA, which President Obama and the Justice Department said they will no longer defend in court, allows states to deny recognition to same-sex marriages performed in other states, and also prevents federal recognition of such unions.
Paul, a 75-year-old libertarian-leaning Republican, was asked if he agreed with the 2009 Iowa supreme court ruling for marriage equality, then responded that he hadn’t read that “report” but supported each state’s right to legislate on marriage. An aide intervened, and Paul said marriage is “a personal, spiritual matter,” that people shouldn’t need a license to get married, and that it becomes a state concern only when one state tries to impose its views on another.
Despite his confusion about the ruling, Paul said he supported Iowa voters’ right to recall state supreme court justices. Three of the justices who ruled for marriage equally were ousted in last year’s election; the ruling was unanimous, but only three of the seven justices were up for retention votes. Conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, who founded Family Leader, was a key player in the recall effort.
Paul, who ran in the GOP presidential primaries in 2008, said at the Family Leader meeting that there’s a 50-50 chance he’ll seek the nomination in 2012.