Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, on Thursday vowed to stand for the right of Christians to refuse to serve gay and lesbian couples based on their religious beliefs.

Cruz made his pledge during a gathering of pastors hosted by the Family Research Council (FRC), a vocal opponent of LGBT rights.

Cruz told the pastors that he was “heartbroken” to see the most controversial provisions of so-called religious freedom bills in Arkansas and Indiana that opponents said would allow businesses to discriminate against gay men and lesbians removed after businesses threatened to boycott the states.

“Just a few weeks ago, we saw the battles that played out in Indiana and Arkansas. And it was heartbreaking,” Cruz said.

“The modern Democratic Party has become so radical, so extreme, that they have determined that their devotion to mandatory gay marriage in all 50 states trumps any allegiance to religious liberty under the First Amendment.”

“And let me tell you something that was even sadder, was just how many Republicans ran for the hills.”

“I can tell you this: I will always, always, always stand and fight for religious liberty of every American!” he added.