Urbandale, Iowa (CNN) – Asked whether he would support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday he supports the idea of traditional marriage but thinks Washington shouldn’t be involved in the issue.
“I’m in favor of the concept,” the Kentucky Republican told an audience in Iowa. “I am in favor of traditional marriage, and I think that’s been the foundation for civilization for thousands of years.”
“And the loss of the idea of marriage is probably the leading cause of poverty in our country, in the sense that if you kids before you’re married, your chance of being in poverty is three of four times that of anyone else,” he continued.
Paul’s comments came as he was taking questions at a breakfast event hosted by a conservative club in the Des Moines area, one of his final stops on a three-day trip across the state that holds the country’s first caucuses in presidential election years.
At his events, he has focused on fiscal issues, minority outreach, privacy rights, foreign policy and immigration, largely staying away from social issues like marriage, birth control and abortion.
In tune with his libertarian leanings, Paul reiterated that he supports the idea of removing the federal government from marriage.
“I don’t want to register my guns in Washington or my marriage,” he said. “That may not please everybody but historically our founding fathers didn’t register their marriage in Washington. They registered it locally at the courthouse. I’d rather see it be a local issue, not a federal issue.”
Taking a question on the Democratic-fueled argument that the GOP is behind a “war on women,” Paul said the recent debate over contraception has been misconstrued.
“It’s been this narrative that’s come from the other side…somehow saying we’re some troglodytes who really are against birth control,” he said. “There may be various opinions in here, but there’s probably almost nobody who wants to ban birth control. I haven’t heard any Republican politician who does.”
He said the recent Supreme Court ruling-which decided certain for-profit companies can’t be required to pay for specific types of contraceptives for their employee-was more about religious rights than birth control.
“They concocted this whole thing in some Madison Avenue advertising agency that there’s a war on women and I kind of jokingly say, ‘yeah, if there was, women won,’” he said.
The Democratic National Committee quickly pounced on Paul’s remarks as “disingenuous” and “false.” The group pointed to legislation Paul introduced last year that would constitutionally define life as beginning at conception.
Critics of such "personhood" legislation argue it could lead to bans of certain forms of birth control, like emergency contraception and intrauterine devices, that could potentially have effects after fertilization.
“Female voters in Iowa, and across the country know where he stands – and it’s not on the side of women,” Rebecca Chalif, DNC deputy press secretary, said in a statement.