Republican presidential hopeful and Texas governor Rick Perry found himself trying to explain his opposition to gays serving openly in the military to a 14-year-old girl in Iowa who demanded to know "why you're so opposed to gays serving openly in the military, why you want to deny them that freedom when they're fighting and dying for your right to run for president."
ABC News reports on the exchange between Perry and Rebecka Green on Sunday in Decorah. Green later identified herself to reporters as bisexual.
"Here's my issue," said Perry, unaware of the teen's sexual orientation. "This is about my faith, and I happen to think, you know, there are a whole hosts of sins. Homosexuality being one of them, and I'm a sinner and so I'm not going to be the first one to throw a stone," he said. "I don't agree that openly gays should be serving in the military. 'Don't ask, don't tell' was working, and my position is just like I told a guy yesterday, he said, 'How would you feel if one of your children was gay?' I said I'd feel the same way. I hate the sin, but I love the sinner, but having them openly serve in the military, I happen to think as a commander in chief of some 20,000-plus people in the military is not good public policy, and this president was forced by his base to change that policy and I don't think it was good policy, and I don't think people in the military thought it was good policy."
The young woman's father told reporters that he and his daughter came to the event because of the Perry campaign ad that asked why gay people can serve openly in the military while children allegedly cannot "openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school." The ad, called "Strong," was roundly panned on YouTube.
"He seemed to get that backward," said Todd Green, according to The National Journal. "Christians are not being persecuted in the United States of America. They've been in a position of dominance and power and privilege throughout the history of the United States of America. LGBT persons have not."
Watch the video of the exchange from The National Journal.