WASHINGTON -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) briefly appears in a new documentary that argues gay rights are a threat to Christianity.
The film, "Light Wins: How To Overcome The Criminalization Of Christianity," is a project by socially conservative activist Janet Porter. It features a who's who of anti-gay activists, including pastor Scott Lively and Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly. The documentary warns that the religious right is getting pushed aside by the "homosexual lobby."
Paul's appearance in the film comes as he prepares to announce a 2016 presidential run and as the Republican Party finds itself divided over how to move forward on the issue of gay rights and concerns over religious freedom.
Promotional materials first posted by Right Wing Watch in February revealed that Paul was slated to appear in the documentary. But Paul told The Huffington Post at the time that he wasn't aware of it.
"I saw [the news about the documentary] this morning," he said on Feb. 12. "I don’t know anything about it. I’ve never heard of it until today."
The Huffington Post received a DVD of the film this week from the Human Rights Campaign. Paul appears during a section talking about ministers who don't want to perform same-sex weddings.
"Or are they [the federal government] going to ultimately say to a minister who has a tax deduction, 'Oh, that's not really your money and you're getting a tax deduction and we're going to make you do this?'" Paul asks.
(Watch Paul's appearance above, 5:25 into the clip.)
In a trailer for the film, Paul talks about being relieved that the Supreme Court hasn't found that there is a constitutional right to marriage equality. In 2013, the court said it was unconstitutional for the federal government to refuse to recognize gay couples who were married but it did not go so far as to say that same-sex marriage should be legal nationwide.
"The silver lining, I would say, that came out of the ruling though was they did go on for seven pages saying that this has been a state issue. They didn't overturn the right of states to determine what marriage is," Paul said.
Paul's office did not return multiple requests for comment on whether the senator was aware he was being included in the documentary and if he agrees with its overall message. Porter, the filmmaker, did not return a request for comment on Paul's involvement.
Other politicians who appear in the documentary include former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) and Steve King (R-Iowa).
Unlike many of his fellow GOP presidential aspirants, Paul has not weighed in on the new so-called religious freedom law in Indiana, which has faced a national backlash for potentially opening the door to discrimination against LGBT individuals.
But this week, BuzzFeed surfaced a 2013 video in which Paul said he doesn't even believe in the concept of "gay rights."
"I don’t think I’ve ever used the word gay rights, because I don’t really believe in rights based on your behavior," he said in the video.
Asked about marriage equality over a year later, Paul affirmed that he favors so-called traditional marriage, though he added that the Republican Party should tolerate different viewpoints.
"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," he said. "So I don’t think we can completely flip. But can we become, to use the overused term, a bigger tent? I think we can and can agree to disagree on a lot of these issues."
In another interview a couple months later, Paul acknowledged that "society's changing" and becoming more accepting of marriage equality.
“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.”
The Republican Party itself is becoming increasingly supportive of same-sex marriage and gay rights more broadly, with young voters driving the shift. A Pew poll last year found that while 66 percent of Republicans age 65 and older say gay and lesbian couples raising children is a bad thing, only 18 percent of Republicans under 30 agree.
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