On Friday, the Texas senator engaged in a heated debate about LGBT rights and religious liberty with the Juno and Inception star while flipping burgers at the fair
Presidential hopefuls are used to having animated conversations about policy at the Iowa State Fair. But their interlocutors are not always Oscar-nominated actors.
On Friday, Texas senator Ted Cruz engaged in a heated debate about LGBT rights and religious liberty with Juno and Inception star Ellen Page while flipping pork burgers at the Iowa State Fair.
Page, who dramatically came out as gay in a 2014 speech, initially asked Cruz about his opposition to ENDA, federal legislation which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Texas Republican responded to Page’s initial question by arguing “what we’re seeing right now is actually Bible-believing Christians being persecuted”.
Cruz is hosting a “rally for religious liberty” in Des Moines tonight, and mentioned the Odegaards, a couple due to appear at his event. The Texas Republican said that the Iowa couple, who have a wedding chapel on their property, were approached by a gay couple who wanted to hold their wedding there. The Odegaards refused, citing their religious faith, and ended up facing litigation as result, which they settled out of court of $5,000.
The Texas senator felt that the Odegaards should have been free to refuse to host the gay couple’s wedding and said he also believed that a gay florist would have the right to refuse to provide flowers to an evangelical wedding. Cruz went on to claim that there is “liberal intolerance” against “anyone that dares follow the biblical teaching of marriage”.
Page disagreed and argued that “there needs to be more tolerance for LGBT people. It used to be illegal and they were thrown in jail and they have come a really long way.”
Cruz then argued that gay people faced the most discrimination from ISIS and Iran and tried to attack Obama for reaching a nuclear deal with the Iranian regime. Page then pointed out that gay people faced violence and discrimination from “Christians in Russia, Christians in Uganda, Christians in Jamaica”.
The Texas senator then said “murder is murder and it is wrong” but argued “there is a difference between a community like Jamaica which has different standards; it may not have gay pride parades but they aren’t murdering people.”
Page than responded accurately that “a lot of gay people are getting killed in Jamaica”. A 2014 report from the global NGO Human Rights Watch said there was “unchecked homophobic violence” in Jamaica.
Shortly afterwards, Cruz abruptly ended his exchange with Page. The Texas Republican told reporters afterwards: “I think the conversation is about persecution of religious liberty and she didn’t want to have that conversation.”
Page, who – like Cruz – was born in Canada, has long been an active critic of the Texas senator on social media.
Watch footage of the encounter, as posted by ABC News, below.