Alabama peanut farmer protests Roy Moore in his daughter’s memory
Last night, heart-broken 74-year-old Nathan Mathis from Alabama stood outside the Roy Moore rally in the cold with a photo of his daughter. He was there to protest a man who has called gay people “perverts” and “abominations.” Mathis’s daughter Patti Sue was gay. She died by suicide at the age of 23.
In a video that has now been viewed almost 3 million times, Mathis is seen holding a photo of his daughter in her basketball uniform. At his feet is a sign that reads: “Judge Roy Moore called my daughter Patti Sue a pervert because she was gay. A 32-year-old Roy Moore dated teenage girls ages 14-17. So that makes him a pervert of the worst kind. Please don’t vote for Roy Moore.” Reporters talked with him about his daughter, and why he came to protest the rally that night.
In an honest, matter-of-fact way, Mathis talked about Moore and his statements about homosexuality: “Judge Roy Moore called [my daughter] a pervert for one reason — because she was gay. If he called her a pervert then he called your child a pervert if she was gay or your son was gay.” His words are particularly powerful because of who Mathis is — an elderly peanut farmer from Alabama, a self-described “man of faith” who admitted that he too was once biased against the LGBT community.
“I was anti-gay myself. I said bad things to my daughter myself, which I regret. But I can’t take back what happened to my daughter, but stuff like saying my daughter’s a pervert, sure, I’m sure that bothered her.”
This father, who can now only show his daughter his love and remorse by standing up for her after her death, made a simple case for why Moore shouldn’t be elected to public office: “You’re supposed to uphold the constitution. Constitution said ‘all men are created equal.’ Well, how is my daughter a pervert just because she was gay?…We don’t need a person like that representing us in Washington.”
For all the pundits and politicians arguing about why Roy Moore should or shouldn’t be elected to the Senate (and let’s be clear, he definitely, definitely shouldn’t), it’s this one man who has touched the hearts of thousands of people across the country.
Sad. I too was brought up to believe being gay was a sin. When my only child, my son told me he was gay I was distrought until I realized that he hadn't changed, & I loved him. Then I knew I was the one who had to change. I took a college class to learn about my son. I love him.— Gail Ledesma (@GailLedesma3) December 12, 2017
This video moved me to tears. The pain around this is so deep, and his regret is so palpable. As a parent, my heart breaks for him. As a lesbian, I wish that my own father had ever been willing to defend me as this father does the daughter he lost.— buckygrrl (@buckygrrl) December 12, 2017
Empathy transcends politics, faith, education, race, gender, species....— a perspective (@scott_ttocs44) December 12, 2017
This man is as humble & genuine as they come. He admitted his detrimental mistake in condemning his daughter & she would forgive him & would be beaming with pride. He is an inspiration & I hope he rests easy knowing that he has righted a wrong. #VoteDougJones #RightSideofHistory— Lace (@lacenlyn) December 12, 2017
This man makes me proud of this country. A man standing up for his child against the tyranny of institutional bigotry. Love and admiration to this honorable man. 🙇♂️🙇♀️💕 And so very sorry for his loss, may he find peace of mind by speaking the truth.— Lu Woo (@RealLuWoo) December 12, 2017
It takes a brave man to admit he was wrong & look at the world differently. Let's hope the people of Alabama vote for change. #VoteDoug— Mandie Alice (@mandie_alice) December 12, 2017
Mathis went on CNN this morning to share more about his daughter, what he learned from her death, and why people like Roy Moore, who spout the kind of beliefs that led to her shooting herself, should not be elected to the Senate:
Mathis is a former county commissioner (1974-1978) and Alabama state representative (1982-1994). Last year, he ran for Congress as a Democrat against Republican incumbent Martha Roby. He won the Democratic primary after running unopposed. He lost to Roby, the incumbent, in November by only 9 points.
But politics was not his reason for protesting Moore last night. One reporter asked him, “Being out here tonight, what do you hope to accomplish?” “I don’t know what I’ll accomplish,” he said, “I really don’t. I had mixed emotions about coming. But somebody needs to speak up, and if it’s all to no avail, so be it. It won’t be the first time I’ve done something to no avail.”