Is Paul Babeu moving from being an anti-gay rights by association politician to a gay marriage advocate?

The 43-year-old Babeu appeared Monday on CNN's The Situation Room, where he told host Wolf Blitzer that he wants the federal government out of the marriage business, just like GOP presidential candidate Paul.

“And this is where I go Ron Paul on people, in terms of the libertarian” Babeu said in answering whether gay marriage should be legal. “I believe in less government at the federal level. They should get out of people's lives. Unless it's an enumerated power in the Constitution it falls to the states.”

Babeu, the sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona who is running to represent the people of the 4th District of Arizona as a Republican, on Saturday denied charges that he threatened to have his ex-boyfriend, a Mexican national, deported.

While Babeu has not previously denied his sexual orientation, analysts have made much of the company he keeps and the presumption of being anti-gay by association. Babeu in 2010 was featured in an ad with Arizona Senator John McCain, an opponent of gay marriage and repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.” He's also donated to the campaign of former Arizona State Senator Timothy Bee, who introduced Arizona's constitutional amendment which defines marriage as a heterosexual union.

Several polls showed Babeu leading his opponents before the news broke on Thursday.

Babeu attempted to mollify the party faithful by saying he supports freedom of religion. He then added, “You can't legislate love.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

(Related: Mitt Romney camp doesn't have a problem with Paul Babeu being gay.)