Ted Cruz’s trip to the Iowa State Fair on Friday included an impromptu exchange with actress Ellen Page about gay rights. The Juno star, who memorably came out on Valentine’s Day last year and who was in Iowa filming a new Vice show this week, approached the pork-chop-grilling Republican hopeful to ask him an open-ended question about whether “religious liberty” could lead to the persecution of members of the LGBTQ community.
Unsurprisingly, Cruz expressed no such fears. Instead, he kept his remarks focused on Christian business owners, who he says are the ones who are actually facing persecution for refusing to provide services to gay couples. “What we’re seeing right now, we’re seeing Bible-believing Christians being persecuted for living to their faith,” Cruz told Page.
The exchange was captured on camera by a number of outlets including CBS News (you can watch their video of it above.) During an interview after the exchange, Cruz suggested to ABC News that he did not know he was talking to Page.
One important fact check about the story of the Iowa couple that Cruz tells early in the video: Dick and Betty Odgaard are indeed a Mennonite couple who agreed to pay a $5,000 fine late last year after they refused to provide service to a gay couple. But though Cruz repeatedly suggests the couple owns a church, in reality they own a former church that they converted into an art gallery, flower shop, and bistro that they then ran as a wedding venue. So the Texan’s taking some rather large liberties when he suggests that requiring the Odgaards to allow a gay couple to wed in their for-profit business would be the same as “forcing a Muslim imam to conduct a Jewish wedding ceremony.”
Cruz, though, has twisted the facts of the Odgaard’s case before—and he’s likely to again. He has invited the couple to be special guests at his “Rally for Religious Liberty” campaign event, which is taking place in Des Moines later Friday and will, in the words and capitalization of Cruz’s website, feature “SPECIAL GUESTS VICTIMIZED BY GOVERNMENT PERSECUTION.”