Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Craig James says he believes being gay is a choice and gays will have to answer to God.
James made those comments Wednesday during a Republican candidate debate in Dallas where Tom Leppert was also forced to defend his record as Dallas mayor.
At least twice while serving as Dallas’ mayor, Republican Tom Leppert marched in Dallas’ gay pride parade.
Opponent Ted Cruz has hammered Leppert for joining the marches, which prompted a question to Cruz that he sidestepped during Wednesday’s debate.
Moderator: Are you saying Mayor Leppert is in favor of gay marriage?
Cruz: What I am saying is that when a mayor of a city chooses twice to march in a parade celebrating gay pride, that’s a statement - and it’s not a statement I agree with.
Former Mayor Leppert has complained that Cruz has distorted his position on gays, and Leppert wanted to clear up misconceptions for the conservative voters who were listening.
Leppert: The mayor is against gay marriage. I believe marriage should be defined as one man and one woman. But I had the responsibility to represent everybody, but everybody understood where my faith was. I will tell my role as a Christian is to reach out and touch everybody.
Former television sports analyst Craig James then weighed in.
James: I think right now in this country, our moral fiber is sliding down a slope that is going to be hard to stop if we don’t stand up with leaders who don’t go ride in gay parades. I can assure you I will never ride in a gay parade. And I hear what you’re saying, Tom, but leaders - our kids out there people need to see examples.
Moderator: Do you think people choose to be gay?
James: I think it’s a choice, I do.
Moderator: It’s not in the genes?
James: I think that you have to make that choice. But in that case right there, they are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions. We should not give benefits to those civil unions.
Leppert says government shouldn’t be involved in deciding whether gay partners have legal benefits given spouses which might include property inheritance or making medical decisions.
Cruz says states should decide those benefits.
Gay rights has become an important test in this primary contest as hardcore Texas Republicans demand candidates take more socially conservative stands.
Candidates Glenn Addison, Lela Pittenger and Andrew Castanuela also took part in the debate. Noticeably absent was Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. Opponents say he’s skipped more than 20 candidate forums. A Dewhurst spokesman says he was campaigning elsewhere.