Ted Cruz might've been expecting today (Aug. 21) to be a literal and metaphorical picnic when he suited up to hit the Iowa State Fair and grill some pork chops and burgers, but the vocal opponent of same-sex marriage -- he calls it a matter of "religious liberty" and advocates for state-by-state determination of gay marital rights -- and GOP presidential hopeful was taken to task over his beliefs by actress Ellen Page.
Page, who came out as gay last year and declared she hopes to "make a difference," confronted the Texas senator about his position on LGBT rights at the outdoor event, and the exchange was documented by ABC News.
As captured in the video below, Page approached Cruz and raised "the question about LGBT people being fired for being gay-trans," and he answered the inquiry with, "right now, we're seeing Bible-believing Christians being persecuted for living according to their faith."
But when Page pressed further and noted that his position involves "discriminating against LGBT people" and drew a parallel to similarly doctrine-based pro-segregation arguments, Sen. Cruz stated that while he was "happy to answer" he would not engage her in "a back-and-forth debate."
Cruz went on to cite examples of what he believes support his theory that individuals in the marketplace shouldn't be "force[d] to abandon their faith and conscience" on the issue of gay marriage. One such was this: "Imagine, hypothetically, you had a gay florist and imagine two evangelicals wanted to get married and they decide, 'You know what, I disagree with your faith; I don’t want to provide flowers.'"
Cruz was likely referencing last week's Colorado state appeals court ruling that religious beliefs cannot be cited to deny same-sex couples the right to purchase a wedding cake from a shop owner -- an extension of policy protections which prevent discrimination based on race, religion, and gender.
And while Page agreed with the ruling, Cruz did not. "I would say the gay florist has every right to say, 'If I disagree with your faith, and I don't want to participate, you know what? Heck, there are lots of other people to buy flowers from," he said.
He also noted that the government cannot force a Jewish Rabbi to perform a Christian wedding ceremony -- however, he forgot to mention that the recent SCOTUS decision legalizing same-sex marriages across all 50 states puts no requirement on religious institutions to perform them, either.
"We are a country that respects religious diversity, and there is this liberal intolerance that says that anyone that dares follow a Biblical teaching, the union of one man and one woman, must be persecuted, must be fined, must be driven out of business," he added.
The debate then waged on for several minutes, but Cruz eventually shut it down once he and Page agreed upon the fact that the Obama Administration should take a firmer stand against international fundamentalists who terrorize their LGBT communities.