Gingrey under fire for comments on gender roles

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ATLANTA —

Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey set off a firestorm with comments made as he spoke in support of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Gingrey, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Marietta, suggested on the House floor this week that young girls and young boys should be split up in school and taught traditional gender roles.

"We need to go back into the schools at a very early age," Gingrey said. "Have a class for the young girls and have a class for the young boys and say, 'This is what a father does that's maybe a little different... maybe a little better than the talents a mom has in a certain area,' and same thing for the young girls."

Channel 2’s Lori Geary tried to ask Gingrey to explain his comments but he declined an on-camera interview.

A spokeswoman released a statement that said, "Phil is a strong supporter of traditional marriage and believes strong male and female role models are essential in a child's development. Phil was speaking theoretically to emphasize his point that kids learn different things from their mothers and fathers.”

Geary talked with voters who have mixed opinions.

"I think it's not realistic.  I think in today's society kids don't live in traditional homes, they don't have traditional families, so it's important we teach our kids that mommies and daddies can do the same thing," Joan Lewis said.

Ben Smith is a single dad who agrees with Gingrey.

"I'm a dad that has raised my 9-year-old son.  I acknowledge his mother does certain things better than I do, even though I try," Smith said.

Gingrey is one of five announced Republicans running to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss.