Nathan Mathis, an Alabama peanut farmer who lost his lesbian daughter to suicide, traveled to Roy Moore’s rally to warn that hate can destroy the people you love.
Senate candidate Roy Moore’s “Drain the Swamp” rally in Midland City, Alabama, was memorable in a lot of ways.
One speaker said Muslims had never heard of indoor plumbing. Another proudly boasted that Moore, while serving in Vietnam, was at a child brothel and did not even touch any of the children. And Moore’s wife, Kayla, proclaimed that her husband cannot possibly be a bigot because “one of our attorneys is a Jew.”
Just as memorable as the characters speaking at the rally, however, was one man who was protesting outside.
Nathan Mathis, a 74-year-old peanut farmer who grew up outside Midland City, was hurt by anti-gay rhetoric in a deeply personal way. His lesbian daughter, Patti Sue Mathis — attacked everywhere she went in a community that viewed her as a blasphemous deviant — took her own life. She was 23.
Faced with the prospect his friends and neighbors could elect a senator who has advocated criminalizing homosexuality, Mathis traveled to Moore’s rally to warn people of the consequences of hate.
“The Constitution said all men were created equal,” Mathis told reporters. “But how is my daughter a pervert just because she’s gay?”
Mathis related how he, as a God-fearing Christian, initially believed the fire-and-brimstone vitriol against gays espoused by his local preachers. “I said bad things to my daughter myself, which I regret. But I can’t take back what happened to my daughter. Stuff like saying my daughter was a pervert, I’m sure that bothered her.”
Mathis was also disgusted by the hypocrisy of Moore, who was banned from a local mall for stalking teenage girls, calling adults in consensual same-sex relationships perverted.
“A 32 year old Roy Moore dated teenage girls ages 14 to 17,” his sign read. “So that makes him a pervert of the worst kind. Please don’t vote for Roy Moore!”
On Tuesday morning, Mathis appeared on CNN, where he once again spoke out about the danger and consequences of Moore’s hatred on people like his daughter:
I grew up in going to Church of Christ. I was there every time the doors opened, I’ve heard that from the pulpit numerous times, and I believed that myself. But after having the experience from my daughter and seeing real life like it really is, I realized how wrong that was. My daughter was a good person. My daughter was not no damn pervert, as Roy Moore called her. And Roy Moore by going out with the teenage girls, he doesn’t deserve to be in the United States Senate.
It took tremendous courage for Mathis to challenge Moore, and the culture of his community, for hurting the vulnerable, and to warn others not to make the mistakes he made. His words should be heeded by all. The human cost of hate is not something we can afford to pay.