Tommy Thompson Apologizes for Saying Employers Can Fire Gay Worker for Being Gay

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson apologized for saying an employer should be allowed to fire a gay worker solely for being gay.

Thompson said he had misunderstood a question Thursday during a GOP candidates' debate in California. The question: "If a private employer finds homosexuality immoral, should he be allowed to fire a gay worker?"

His response: "I think that is left up to the individual business. I really sincerely believe that that is an issue that business people have got to make their own determination as to whether or not they should be."

Asked if his answer was yes, Thompson said, "Yes."

On Friday, Thompson told CNN he should have asked the moderator to repeat the question.

"I made a mistake. I misinterpreted the question," Thompson said in a telephone interview. "I didn't hear, I didn't hear the question properly and I apologize."

Thompson spokesman Tony Jewell said the former Wisconsin governor does not believe any form of discrimination in the workplace is justified.

"His long record reflects that belief," Jewell said.