AMES, Iowa — Texas Governor and GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry was met by hecklers during a campaign stop in Ames, Iowa on Sunday, continuing to catch heat for an anti-gay campaign ad released last week in which he said that gays serving openly in the military is a sign of what’s wrong with America.
“Why do you hate gays so much?” screamed one Iowan as Perry wrapped up a his campaign stop and avoided taking any questions from the audience, reported the Des Moines Register.
The heckling followed Perry’s brief remarks to Iowa voters at the Cafe Diem coffee shop in downtown Ames.
“Why are you demonizing gay and lesbian people?” shouted another heckler.
Another man, identifying himself as a Marine veteran from the Iraq war, asked Perry, “Why can’t gays compete in the military?”
Jason Arment, 24, of Grimes, Iowa and an English major at nearby Iowa State University, who said he was straight, said he served with the Marines in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, and that he found the Perry ad “extremely offensive” and “insulting” to service members, reported the Los Angeles Times.
At the center of the storm is a Perry campaign ad aimed at evangelical Christians in Iowa, in which he says that “there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”
Iowa State University associate professor Warren Blumenfeld was one who shouted questions to Perry, asking him why he was marginalizing and demonizing non-Christians.
“The implication is if you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, you’re not a real American,” said Blumenfeld, who teaches studies about sexuality. “He is marginalizing people and dividing this country, and he’s demonizing proud Americans who just don’t have the social identities as he has.”
Sunday marked the first that Perry was confronted over the ad on the campaign trail.