Standing outside of a Roy Moore rally in Midland City on the eve of Alabama’s special Senate election, peanut farmer Nathan Mathis held a photo of his daughter and a sign with a message for voters: Please don’t vote for Moore.
Mathis’ daughter, Patti Sue Mathis, died by suicide when she was 23 because "she was tired of being ridiculed and made fun of," for being gay, he wrote in an open letter to the Dothan Eagle, a local Alabama newspaper, in 2012.
Speaking to NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard, Mathis condemned Moore’s past comments on homosexuality while revealing he too was once anti-gay. "I said bad things to my daughter, which I regret,” Mathis lamented.
"Judge Roy Moore called her a pervert for one reason: because she was gay," Mathis said. "If he called her a pervert, he called your child a pervert if she was gay or if your son was gay. This is something people need to stop and think about. He’s supposed to uphold the Constitution. The Constitution said all men are created equal. Well, how’s my daughter a pervert just because she was gay?”
He continued, "He didn’t call my daughter by name, but he said all gay people are perverts, abominations. That’s not true. We don’t need a person like that representing us in Washington. That’s why I’m here."
The Wicksburg resident's sign noted "a 32-year-old Roy Moore dated teenage girls ages 14 to 17. So that makes him a pervert of the worst kind," a reference to allegations by several women that Moore made sexual advances toward the when they were teenagers. Moore has denied the accusations.
Moore has a long history of making anti-LGBTQ statements, including saying homosexuality should be illegal and that “homosexual behavior is a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it.”
He was also removed from his state’s Supreme Court for urging state probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized it.