Nathan Mathis, a peanut farmer in Alabama, told reporters on Monday night that he had a very personal reason for speaking out against Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Mathis, 74, said his daughter, who was gay, died by suicide when she was 23 years old. Now, he’s protesting Moore over his history of discriminating against members of the LGBTQ community.
“Judge Roy Moore called [my daughter] a pervert for one reason ― because she was gay,” Mathis told a group of reporters outside a Moore campaign rally in Midland City, Alabama. Moore is up against Democrat Doug Jones in a special election taking place Tuesday.
“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,” Mathis said. “The Constitution says all men are created equal. Then how is my daughter a pervert just because she was gay?”
Mathis also said he once possessed anti-LGBTQ sentiments, which he now regrets.
“I was anti-gay myself,” he said. “I said bad things to my daughter myself, which I regret. But I can’t take back what happened to my daughter.”
He added that Alabama residents did not need a person with Moore’s discriminatory stances representing them in Washington, D.C.
One tweet with a video of Mathis’ candid interview had been retweeted over 34,000 times and liked more than 75,000 times as of Tuesday morning.
Twitter users also began sharing a letter Mathis wrote in 2012 to the Dothan Eagle, a local newspaper, in which he described how his views had changed since his daughter’s death.
“Believe what you want to,” Mathis wrote. “I only know that if you ever have a child or grandchild who is gay, you’ll think differently.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.