Rand Paul said Thursday that its a "huge mistake" to jail Rowan county clerk Kim Davis for refusing to issue marriage licenses out of her opposition to same-sex marriage on religious grounds.
"I think it's absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty," Paul told CNN's Brianna Keilar. "You know if you want to convince people that same-sex marriage is something that's acceptable, I would say try to persuade people. But you know, if we're going to use the federal government, and get involved in every state, locality, you know what's going to happen? It's going to harden people's resolve on this issue. They'll be no open-mindedness on this, and I think its a real mistake to be doing this. I think what's going to happen as a result of this, is states and localities are going to opt out of the marriage business completely."
On Thursday morning, Davis was held in contempt of court by a federal judge, and will be held in federal marshal custody until she instructs her staff to issue marriage licenses.
Paul said the law in Kentucky hasn't been debated enough, and said he thinks there are ways to interpret the law that wouldn't lead conflicts like the one in Rowan county.
"Well I think one thing we haven't debated enough is what actually is the law. Is the law that every county clerk in Kentucky has to sign a marriage certificate. Is a notary of the public, is that sufficient? Is the clerk's job to execute and to file contracts, or is it to sign their approval? I think there's a lot of different ways around this that don't lead to conflict that lead more to more time where people can try to persuade others of their opinion on what marriage should be," Paul said.
Paul added that jailing Davis is a step back for those who support same-sex marriage.
"I think this is a real mistake, and even those on the other side of the issue, those who want to support a new definition for marriage, I think it sets their movement back, because its seen as that the federal government is going to come in, with bully force, and here even with police power, and incarcerate people who disagree or who still believe in the traditional notion of marriage. So I think its a huge mistake and its a step back even for those who do want to redefine marriage."