Paul Babeu made mention of Ron Paul's position on gay marriage during his coming out press conference on Saturday.

The 43-year-old Babeu, the sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona and a GOP candidate for Congress, acknowledged he's gay in the course of denying claims made by a former lover in a story published Thursday by the Phoenix New Times.

The man, a Mexican national identified only as Jose, claimed that Babeu, a vocal opponent of illegal immigration who was featured in Senator John McCain's 2010 campaign ad advocating for greater border security, had threatened him with deportation when he refused to sign an agreement stating that he would not discuss their relationship.

At an outdoor news conference in Florence, Arizona, Babeu called the allegations “absolutely, completely false, except for the issues that refer to me as being gay. Because that's the truth. I am gay.”

When asked whether he supports gay marriage, Babeu danced around the subject, saying he saw it as a states' rights issue.

“This is an issue not for the federal government, I see this as, and a lot of people connect this to Ron Paul, as a states' rights issue. That this should not be an issue for the federal government. Anything that is not enumerated in the Constitution would fall to the states.”

Babeu at first suggested that religious freedoms should supersede personal freedoms: “Personal liberties and freedoms? Talk about the religious freedoms. Talk about the freedom of religion and the expression of that. This is a deeply religious ceremony, an event. Some faiths condone and support it. Some do not, and are adamantly against it.”

But he appeared to reverse himself later, saying that he could be an advocate: “If states prohibit that, that's the issues for the states. I can be a supporter and get out there and help articulate, as we progress as a culture and as a society, that there should be individual liberties and there should be individual freedoms. That for any other person to define somebody else's relationship and to say that it's not OK – that is not who we are as Americans.”

Citing his own 20-year military career, Babeu added that he supports open gay service in the military. (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

(Related: Paul Babeu says he's gay; resigns from Mitt Romney campaign.)