An Alabama man whose lesbian daughter committed suicide is reminding voters that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore is not only an alleged sexual predator but a confirmed homophobe.
James Mathis, whose 22-year-old daughter Patti killed herself in 1995 because she didn’t want to be gay, stood outside a Moore rally in Midland City, Ala., Monday night with a photo of Patti and a sign bearing the words “Please don’t vote for Roy Moore.”
Mathis told CNN’s New Day on Tuesday morning that he once bought into anti-LGBT rhetoric like that spewed by Moore, and that he and his wife took their daughter to several doctors trying unsuccessfully to “cure” her.
“I found her dead in the house where she had shot herself,” Mathis said. “It was a terrible experience, and I have [guilty] feelings about it every day. Are you going to vote for a man that calls your child or grandchild a pervert just because they're born gay? There's something wrong with this picture. Roy Moore does not deserve to be in the United States Senate.”
“I believed [that homosexuality is immoral] myself, but after having the experience from my daughter and seeing real life like it really is, I realized how wrong that was,” he added. “My daughter was a good person. My daughter was not no damn pervert, as Roy Moore called her. Roy Moore, by going out with those teenage girls, he does not deserve to be in the United States Senate. It's just that simple. The man needs to be in a psych ward somewhere with a psychiatrist trying to help him get better.”
Mathis had also addressed his daughter’s life and death in a letter to Alabama’s Dothan Eagle in 2012, objecting to antigay rhetoric in that year’s election. “On March 22, 1995, Patti took her own life because she didn’t want to be gay anymore,” he wrote. “She was tired of being ridiculed and made fun of. She was tired of seeing how a lot of people treat gay people.” He wrote that he had left his church, the Christian Home Church of Christ, due to the homophobia being preached there.
Moore, previously chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is well-known for his anti-LGBT stances, and he was removed from the court for trying to block marriage equality in the state. He has said that homosexual activity should be criminalized and that transgender people have no rights.
During his run for the Senate in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became U.S. attorney general, Moore has been the subject of allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. He has been accused of molesting a 14-year-old and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old. He has denied all the allegations.
Alabama voters are going to the polls today to choose between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones.
Below, watch a video of Mathis at Monday's rally, where he spoke to NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard.
Father, who says he's a local peanut farmer in Wicksburg, outside Roy Moore rally talks about losing his gay daughter at age of 23 to suicide. "I was anti-gay myself. I said bad things to my daughter, which I regret." pic.twitter.com/J0oOU0EJI2
— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) December 11, 2017