Roy Moore dropped off the map for days ahead of Tuesday's special election in Alabama, where the conservative Republican hopes to win Attorney General Jeff Sessions's vacated Senate seat. But he finally resurfaced Monday night, holding one last, bizarre rally for a campaign engulfed in controversy following allegations that he preyed on teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
Among the many critiques of Moore's fitness to become Alabama's next senator, Nathan Mathis's may be the most poignant. Mathis, a local peanut farmer, stood outside of the rally venue Monday night to bash Moore's history of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in the name of his daughter Patti Sue, who he says killed herself at 23 while struggling to come to terms with her sexuality.
Mathis had a message for Moore, who has long denounced homosexuality as "an inherent evil"—something "that should be illegal," the Washington Post reports. Mathis said that while Moore "didn't call my daughter by name," his views were effectively still damaging.
"Judge Roy Moore called her a pervert on one reason—because she was gay," Mathis said in an interview posted on Twitter. "This is something people need to stop and think about. You’re supposed to uphold the Constitution. Constitution said all men are created equal. Well, how’s my daughter a pervert just because she was gay?"
In a letter Mathis once published in a local paper, the Dothan Eagle, he wrote that when he found out his daughter was gay, he "said some things to her that still eat on me to this day." He apologized, and—because she asked him to—reportedly took her to doctors to try to "cure" her of her homosexuality. In 1995, Mathis says she took her own life.
"She didn’t want to be gay anymore," Mathis wrote. "She was tired of being ridiculed and made fun of. She was tired of seeing how a lot of people treat gay people. I found Patti that day."
The experience transformed Mathis's views on sexuality, leading him—years later—to a lonely patch of grass outside Moore's rally, imploring folks not to vote for a man who, among his alleged transgressions, has also openly called homosexuality "a crime against nature."
"He said all gay people are perverts. Abominations. That’s not true," Mathis said. "We don’t need a person like that representing us in Washington. That’s why I’m here."
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