A North Carolina Republican candidate for the U.S. House offended a sixth-grader when he told her that gay marriage was like “man marrying a dog.”

Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr. was among the GOP candidates quizzed by students at Greensboro Montessori School during a candidates forum on Wednesday.

When sixth-grader Lana Torres affirmed herself as a supporter of marriage equality and asked Berger how he would ensure equal rights for LGBT people, the sixth congressional district candidate answered: “Two years ago, the voters of North Carolina overwhelmingly approved Amendment One, which only recognized traditional marriage. And I was a leader in that effort. I was the spokesman for traditional marriage in North Carolina, and I am very much in favor of traditional marriage.”

Torres told the News & Record that at the conclusion of the candidates forum she pressed Berger on the issue.

“He talked about a man marrying a dog,” Torres told the paper. “I found that really offensive, that he would compare gay marriage to something so offensive and outrageous.”