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Does This Face Mean Rand Paul Could Evolve on Marriage Equality?

Does This Face Mean Rand Paul Could Evolve on Marriage Equality?


The potential 2016 candidate for president is trying to strike an inclusive tone.


When Rand Paul was asked by CNN whether he might rethink his belief in "traditional marriage," he threw up his hands and made a strange face. And that unusual reaction sparked headlines in The Hill, Washington Post and others curious about Paul's evolution on the issue.

The Republican senator from Kentucky had been talking with CNN's Peter Hamby during a speaking tour of college campuses, where he's often asked about issues on which the GOP differs with young voters. Paul seemed to acknowledge, once again, that his party is in a political quandary on how to handle increasing acceptance of marriage equality.

Here's how CNN reported the exchange:

But can Republicans win a national election if they aren't in tune with rapidly changing opinions on the matter? He took a soft tone.

"Society's changing," he said. "I mean, people change their minds all the time on this issue, and even within the Republican Party, there are people whose child turns out to be gay and they're like, oh well maybe I want to rethink this issue. So it's been rethought. The President's rethought the issue. So I mean, a lot of people have rethought the issue."

It sounded, for a moment, as if Paul was hinting that he, too, could change his thinking about marriage.

"The bottom line is, I'm old fashioned, I'm a traditionalist," he said. "I believe in old-fashioned traditional marriage. But, I don't really think the government needs to be too involved with this, and I think that the Republican Party can have people on both sides of the issue."

"You could rethink it at some point, too?" I asked him.

He shrugged, and gave me a half-grimace. It wasn't a yes or a no, but it revealed Paul's complicated dance as he tries to color outside the lines of the Republican Party.

In August, Paul gave another unusual answer about marriage equality during an interview with The New York Times.

"The party can't become the opposite of what it is," he told the Times in a story about the impact of libertarianism. "If you tell people from Alabama, Mississippi or Georgia, 'You know what, guys, we've been wrong, and we're gonna be the pro-gay-marriage party,' they're either gonna stay home or -- I mean, many of these people joined the Republican Party because of these social issues. So I don't think we can completely flip."

Paul went on to say Republicans might be able to learn from the libertarian approach as a way to expand.

"Can we become, to use the overused term, a bigger tent?," he said. "I think we can and can agree to disagree on a lot of these issues. I think the party will evolve. It'll either continue to lose, or it'll become a bigger place where there's a mixture of opinions."

Watch the CNN interview below:

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