Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, once known as "the meanest man in Congress," says America must fight "to the bitter end" for the right of businesses to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds.
In a Monday interview on right-wing outlet Newsmax TV's Steve Malzberg Show, DeLay defended the original, discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Acts passed in Indiana and Arkansas, subsequently replaced with legislation designed to allay concerns about discrimination.
"Religious liberty is the foundation of this country and what [LGBT people are] trying to do is to undermine the religious liberty so that they become an accepted sexual orientation," DeLay, a Texas Republican, told Malzberg. He blamed the outcry against the original laws on "the gay agenda."
"That's what's going on here, and we have got to fight this battle to the bitter end because once you let the government dictate to you what you believe and what your values are, then this country's finished," he said. The Republican governors of Indiana and Arkansas, Mike Pence and Asa Hutchinson, showed "great weakness" in agreeing to changes in the laws.
He also claimed the fight "isn't about discrimination." "We love people that have chosen to be homosexuals," he said. "The problem is we abhor the sin. So yes, when I have a business and some gay person walks in -- unidentified, by the way, there's no way you can tell it unless he tells you -- then I'm going to serve him. But if he comes in and asks me to undermine my values, what I believe in, undermine my religious liberty, then I have the right to stand up for what I believe in and not serve him."
DeLay resigned from Congress in 2006 after being indicted on charges of plotting to transfer corporate funds to state-level candidates in Texas, who are forbidden to receive corporate contributions. He was convicted in 2010, but the conviction was overturned on appeal. During his time in Congress, he was admonished by his colleagues for unrelated ethics violations. His confrontational style in Congress earned him the nickname "The Hammer" as well as the "meanest man" designation. His post-congressional career includes a stint as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars.
Watch his interview with Malzberg below.
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