John Kasich on Refusing Service to LGBT People: 'What the Hell Are We Doing in This Country?'

VIDEO: The Republican presidential candidate was questioned about LGBT rights and the case of the transgender teen from his home state who committed suicide.PlayABCNews.com
WATCH John Kasich Not Familiar With Transgender Teen Leelah Alcorn

After dodging a question earlier in the day on “conversion therapy,” Republican presidential candidate John Kasich asked Monday night “what the hell” was happening in the United States that a state would allow businesses to deny service to people who are gay or transgender, as a law Mississippi’s governor signed last week permits.

"I read about this thing they did in Mississippi, where apparently you can deny somebody service because they're gay?" Kasich said during a town hall televised on CNN, where appeared with his wife and twin 16-year-old daughters. "What the hell are we doing in this country? I mean, look, I may not appreciate a certain lifestyle or even approve of it, but I can -- it doesn't mean I've got to go write a law and try to figure out how to have another wedge issue.”

But in much of Ohio, the state where he serves as governor, businesses are legally permitted to refuse service to gay or transgender people. While some cities and counties in Ohio prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, no similar statewide protection exists there.

At another town hall earlier Monday, Kasich dodged a question about "conversion therapy," a technique that tries to change a person's gender identity or sexual orientation that has been banned in several states. Instead, Kasich explained his position on gay marriage -- he does not agree with it but thinks it is time to move on now that the Supreme Court has guaranteed it as a right -- and anti-discrimination laws for LGBT people.

Kasich told CBS News this weekend that he would not have signed North Carolina’s so-called "bathroom law," which bars local municipalities from prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation and directs public facilities to designate bathrooms for use by people based on their "biological sex." Critics say the law, which the state's governor signed last month, discriminates against gay and transgender residents, while supporters argue it defends religious liberty.