Speaking at a Christian conservative group in Iowa on Friday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) made an anti-gay joke at President Obama’s expense: “Call me cynical, but I wasn’t sure his views on marriage could get any gayer.” On Face the Nation this morning, anti-gay activist Tony Perkins was asked to comment on Paul’s joke, and he practically leaped out of his skin to distance himself from the senator:
I don’t think it’s a laughing matter. I don’t think this is something we should joke about. Ah, we’re talking about individuals who feel very strongly one way or the other, and I think we should be civil, respectful, allowing all sides to have the debate…but I think this is not something to laugh about, to poke fun of other people about.
On Meet the Press, RNC Chair Reince Priebus similarly refused to defend Paul. “I don’t know what he meant by that,” Priebus said.
This is hardly the first time Sen. Paul found himself so far out of a limb that even leading conservatives had to distance themselves from him. Last year, Paul came out against the nearly fifty year-old federal ban on whites-only lunch counters — claiming that permitting racial segregation is the “hard part of believing in freedom.” Even Tea Party Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) disagreed with Paul on this point.
Nevertheless, it is significant that Perkins, of all people, felt the need to distance himself from Paul on a gay rights issue. Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council which was labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He’s blamed gay people for everything from undermining “military security,” to shrinking the economy, to actively trying to “recruit” high school students into a gay “lifestyle.” He once accused a jelly bean manufacturer of “sexualizing candy,” and he’s praised discredited “ex-gay” therapies for rescuing a woman from gay “bondage.”
And even that guy thinks Mr. Paul’s a little too disrespectful towards gay people and their allies.