- (Photo: Reuters / Charlie Neibergall)
- (Photo: Reuters / Jim Young)
- (Photo: Reuters / Daniel Acker)
Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann were confronted at the Iowa State Fair on Friday by a gay teen who saw himself as a second-class citizen under the policies they support.
Gabe Aderhold, 17, first approached Pawlenty at The Des Moines Register's soapbox, saying, "You are discriminating against me and it hurts."
The senior from Edina High School in Edina, Minn., was speaking from the middle of the crowd that had gathered to hear Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota, speak.
"You have not stood for us and that is really hard for me," Aderhold said, while noting that Pawlenty supports the National Organization for Marriage and the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.
"I thought the country was about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for everyone, no exceptions,” he asserted. “Tim Pawlenty, I want to know, when will you stand up for me?”
The GOP presidential candidate who identifies himself as an evangelical acknowledged that he and the teen hold different opinions on the issue of homosexual marriage.
Pawlenty responded, "From my perspective, I'm not at the point nor will I ever be at the point where I'll say that every domestic relationship is the same as traditional marriage."
"The relationship between a man and a woman in a traditional marriage is important to our country, our society, our culture," he added. "I think it should remain elevated, not just in our words, but under our laws. That's why I've supported laws, in face have authored laws, to maintain marriage as between a man and a woman."
Speaking over applause from Pawlenty's supporters, Aderhold said he supported the former governor having moral values but added, "That is something that is hurting my future and how I get to live my life."
The high-schooler went on to call out Pawlenty for supporting "government that gets out of your lives" yet wanting government to "get involved in our marriages."
The presidential hopeful said states have had laws defining marriage or addressing it throughout history and that is nothing new.
After the teen asked, "Do you think I'm a second-class citizen?" Pawlenty ended the debate by saying, "We're just going to have a respectful disagreement."
Aderhold later challenged Bachmann (R-Minn.) at the same venue later in the day.
As she was signing autographs with her husband by her side, the openly gay teen spoke up from the crowd and questioned her husband Marcus' counseling center for practicing reparative therapy.
He then began to chant, "Shame on you," only to be drowned out by Bachmann's supporters who shouted, "Bachmann."
The teen did not engage in a debate with Bachmann, who soon left the stage.
In a video clip posted on YouTube, Aderhold is then seen debating with a Bachmann supporter.
"He says I'm a barbarian. That's what Marcus calls me," he said, adding that his friend committed suicide because he was bullied.
Pawlenty and Bachmann are two of four GOP candidates who have signed the National Organization for Marriage's pledge, committing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act and a federal marriage amendment, among other things.
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have also signed the marriage pledge.
Iowa voters will weigh in on the GOP presidential field on Saturday with the Ames Straw Poll. The straw poll has so far served well to indicate which candidate will eventually go on to win the Iowa caucus.