(CNN) – A spokesman for Sen. Jim DeMint tells CNN the South Carolina Republican was merely stating his position that school boards should be in control of hiring decisions when the senator reportedly said Saturday that gays and unwed mothers should be banned from teaching.
"Senator DeMint believes that hiring decisions at local schools are a local school board issue, not a federal issue. He was making a point about how the media attacks people for holding a moral opinion," a spokesman for DeMint said Tuesday.
Speaking at a church rally in Spartanburg, South Carolina, DeMint told attendees people quietly told him he should not back down from a position he took in 2004 that openly gay individuals and single mothers who are involved in a sexual relationship should not be allowed to teach. He did not weigh in on whether unwed men should be allowed to teach.
"(When I said those things,) no one came to my defense," he said, according to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. "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, who faces an easy Senate re-election battle against Democratic candidate Alvin Greene, has become a king-maker in conservative circles, backing many candidates in the GOP primaries who defeated candidates supported by establishment Republicans.
Responding to DeMint's comments, the Republican organization GOProud said, “Jim DeMint is doing his best to make Alvin Greene look sane.”
“Jim DeMint’s comments can only be described as outrageous and bizarre," said Christopher R. Barron, Chairman of the GOProud Board. "The idea that someone who says they believe in limited government would support the government weeding out gay teachers and unmarried sexually active female teachers simply defies logic.”