DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowans assume they’ll see plenty of familiar faces at their state fair as election season heats up, but witnessing a famous actress and a presidential candidate engage in a tense discussion over gay rights isn’t something most people expected.
As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was grilling pork chops surrounded by media on Friday afternoon at the fair, actress Ellen Page, clad in a hat and oversized sunglasses, pushed her way to the front of the pack to ask the GOP presidential hopeful about discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
“LGBTQ people can be fired for just being gay, just being trans,” Page said. “How do you feel about that? That doesn’t sound very American to me.”
“At the end of the day, what we should not be doing is persecuting people,” Cruz replied, not appearing to recognize the Canadian actress.
Watch the video above.
Page sought out the exchange, which occurred hours before Cruz’s religious freedom rally, for her Vice show called “Gaycation,” in which she shows how LGBT culture is perceived around the world. The Canadian actress came out as gay last year.
“I’m happy to answer your question, but not to have a back-and-forth debate,” Cruz said following one of Page’s interruptions.
“Religious freedom was often used to justify LGBTQ discrimination,” Page said, comparing the Texas senator’s argument to the one used to justify segregation. “A lot of religious people use the Bible to defend segregation.”
Cruz debated with Page about whether private business owners can refuse to serve customers based on religious beliefs, utilizing hypothetical scenarios but also citing an example of an Iowa couple who lost business after they refused to allow a same-sex couple to have their wedding at their venue.
“They were driven out of business … they laid off their employees.” Cruz said while flipping pork chops over a grill. “That is fundamentally wrong. It’s inconsistent with who we are.”
The two then got into a debate about gay right around the world.
“ISIS is executing gay people,” Cruz said. “Iran is executing homosexuals. On the left, you hear complete silence.”
“That’s not true,” Page interrupted.
“And yet, the Obama administration is sending over 100 billion dollars to a regime that murders homosexuals. That is fundamentally wrong,” Cruz continued.
The confrontation lasted a little over six minutes, abruptly ending as Cruz expressed his disapproval of the Obama administration’s lack of action on behalf of LGBT people who are being persecuted in other countries.
“In Iran, it is the governmental body that is executing them for being homosexual, and why does the Obama administration not stand against it?” Cruz asked.
“I don’t know; I would love to talk to Obama about that,” Page replied.
“Well, good, then we are agreed on it,” Cruz responded.
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