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DeMint: Sexually Active Unmarried Women And Gay Teachers Should Be Barred From Classrooms

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"[When I said those things,] no one came to my defense," he said, the Spartanberg Herald-Journal reported. "But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn't back down. They don't want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion."

DeMint, one of the most conservative members of the Senate, spoke at the Greater Freedom Rally at First Baptist North Spartanburg, S.C. He was referring to comments he first made back in 2004. As the Huffington Post noted, he also said in 2004 that while he had his "personal beliefs," local school boards should be able to decide whether to discriminate against gay and unwed pregnant teachers in a 2004 interview on "Meet the Press."

The Spartanberg Herald-Journal described the comments this way: "DeMint said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn't be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who's sleeping with her boyfriend -- she shouldn't be in the classroom." DeMint did not apparently state his position on whether sexually active unmarried male teachers should be similarly removed from classrooms.

His spokesman told TPMMuckraker that whether gay people should be banned from the classroom isn't an issue on DeMint's agenda in the Senate.

"Senator DeMint believes that hiring decisions at local schools are a local school board issue, not a federal issue," Wesley M. Denton said. "He was making a point about how the media attacks people for holding a moral opinion."

DeMint is running against long-shot Democratic candidate Alvin Greene.