Rick Santorum, Republican candidate for president, said on Thursday that he opposes gay marriage because trees are not cars.

Santorum made his remarks during an interview with the Iowa Independent.

When the paper asked Santorum how the marriages of gay and lesbian couples affect the marriages of heterosexual couples, he likened heterosexual marriage to a tree.

“Because it changes the definition of an intrinsic element of society in a way that minimizes what that bond means to society.”

“Marriage is what marriage is. Marriage was around before government said what it was.”

“It's like going out and saying, 'That tree is a car.' Well, the tree's not a car. A tree's a tree. Marriage is marriage.”

“You can say that tree is something other than it is. It can redefine it. But it doesn't change the essential nature of what marriage is.”

“Marriage is a union between a man and a woman for the purposes of the benefit of both the man and the woman, a natural unitive according to nature, unitive, that is for the purposes of having and rearing children and for the benefit of both the man and the woman involved in that relationship.”

“And for the benefit of society because we need to have stable families of men and woman bonded together to raise children. That's what marriage is.”

“You can say two people who love each other is marriage. But then why limit it to just two people? Why not three people? Why not 10 people?”

“If it's just about love and everybody needs to be treated equally, then why not 10? Why not allowing nieces and aunts to marry? Why not? If marriage means anyone who is in love, well, then, let everybody who is in love get married. But it's not what marriage is.”

“Marriage has an intrinsic value to society, and when you cheapen it by saying anybody in any relationship is the same, it's not. So you undermine the institution No. 1. No. 2, you're gonna undermine religious liberty in this country. We're seeing it already.”

“Anybody who does not recognize what the state says is good and right is a bigot. We don't give licenses for adoptions to organizations that won't do gay adoptions because they're bigots. And a lot of those are faith-based organizations.”

“Will we go into pulpits and tell preachers they can't preach that gay marriage is wrong? Well maybe not right away but maybe tax-exempt status is next.”

“There's a conflict here because we've created something that is not what it is.”

“As a result of that it will have a huge impact on people's religious freedom. You see it in every country that has adopted it already.”

“It will also have the impact of changing our educational structure. You're seeing that already, too, where young children are being indoctrinated as to what normal is.”

“Now normal is what the law is.”

“So now we’re going to see all sorts of information provided to children against their parents' will because the state says it's so. It's coercion as opposed to the collective morality of what the American public wants, and that's what I’ve been fighting for.”

Santorum has previously said he opposes gay marriage because paper towels are not napkins, and he has blamed the economic downturn on the institution.