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Gay Republican Challenges Ted Cruz on Anti-LGBT 'Religious Liberty' Laws

Gay Republican Challenges Ted Cruz on Anti-LGBT 'Religious Liberty' Laws

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A gay Republican from New York challenged Ted Cruz on how "religious liberty" laws will affect his own marriage. 

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On ABC's Good Morning America today, a married gay Republican from New York asked Ted Cruz, "What would you do to protect me and my husband from institutionalized discrimination?"

He was referring to so-called religious freedom laws that have been enacted in states, such as Mississippi, that make it legal for businesses and individuals to deny service to LGBT people and others who offend their religious sensibilities. "When it comes to religious liberty, religious liberty is something that protects all of us; it applies to Christians, it applies to Jews, it applies to Muslims, it applies to atheists," Cruz told the man.

The Republican presidential hopeful told the man that no one wants to live in a world where the government is dictating how anyone lives. "We have a right to live according to our faith, according to our conscience. That freedom ultimately protects each and every one of us. We shouldn't have the right to force others to knuckle under and give up their faith, give up their belief," he said.

GMA cohost Robin Roberts, the out journalist from Mississippi who told The Advocate that her home state's anti-LGBT law "hurts my soul," challenged Cruz, asking him, "When you talk about freedom, what he referred to with his husband, a lot of people would say, doesn't everybody have the freedom to be treated equally, don't we all have the freedom to be equal?"

The Texas senator told Roberts, "Of course we do, and the First Amendment protects everyone equally."

Cohost George Stephanopoulos then challenged Cruz on why he previously supported a constitutional amendment that would have overturned the Supreme Court's marriage equality decision. "I am a constitutionalist. And under the constitution, marriage is a question for the states," Cruz told Stephanopoulos.

Cruz went on to say why he doesn't believe the Supreme Court justices are qualified to change the marriage laws of this country, calling the justices who voted for marriage equality "five unelected lawyers."

Instead of relying on the Supreme Court to amend marriage laws, "convince your fellow citizens to change the laws," Cruz told Stephanopoulous.

Georgia's governor recently vetoed an anti-LGBT "religious freedom" bill similar to the one enacted in Mississippi that would have made it legal for businesses and nonprofits to discriminate against LGBT customers if serving them conflicted with their religious beliefs.

Watch the exchange between Cruz and the audience member below.


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Yezmin Villarreal

Yezmin Villarreal is the former news editor for The Advocate. Her work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mic, LA Weekly, Out Magazine and The Fader.
Yezmin Villarreal is the former news editor for The Advocate. Her work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mic, LA Weekly, Out Magazine and The Fader.