A gay man in Iowa says when he asked Republican presidential candidacy hopeful Newt Gingrich how he would engage gay Americans, the politician told him he should support Obama.

The exchange took place at an event in Oskaloosa, Iowa, for Gingrich’s campaign to win his party’s nomination for the presidential elections next year.

Scott Arnold, an associate professor of writing at William Penn University told the Des Moines Register: “I asked him if he’s elected, how does he plan to engage gay Americans? How are we to support him? And he told me to support Obama.”

Gingrich, who was showered in glitter earlier this year by a gay rights campaigner, supports a federal ban on same-sex marriage and has described the political movement in favour of allowing equal marriage rights to gay citizens as “temporary”.

In 2008, he told Fox News: “There is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it.”

After being told to support the current president, Arnold continued: “When you ask somebody a question and you expect them to support all Americans and have everyone’s general interest, it’s a little bit frustrating and disheartening when you’re told to support the other side, that he doesn’t need your support.”

Mr Arnold, who is a Democrat, would have an ally in Newt Gingrich’s gay sister, who said she would be supporting Obama in the presidential race next year, even if her brother wins the party’s nomination.

Gingrich’s campaign may be successful. According to polls, he is a strong contender with Mitt Romney and Ron Paul to win the party’s bid. The official selection process begins on the 3 January 2012 with the Iowa Republican caucuses.