—E.W. Jackson, a Republican candidate for Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat, in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch in which Jackson attempted to dispel what he feels are misconceptions about his conservative beliefs.
Jackson previously ran for lieutenant governor in 2013, losing to Ralph Northam in the general election. During that campaign, Jackson came under intense criticism for controversial statements he made about LGBTQ rights, abortion, and a host of other social issues. Some of those statements included calling gay people “very sick” and “perverted.”
Attempting to set the record straight, Jackson told the Times-Dispatch that he regrets the tone of his past comments.
He still opposes same-sex marriage and measures that promote LGBTQ equality, such as nondiscrimination laws, but says he hopes to communicate his conservative values in a less offensive manner.
“I am going to endeavor in this campaign to express that in a way that calls attention to my faith, where appropriate, without implying some sort of hostility against gay people or transgender people,” Jackson said. “Because I don’t believe that. And that’s one of the many lessons I’ve learned.”
Jackson, the pastor of The Called — Exodus Faith Ministries in Chesapeake, Va., also attempted to put his anti-LGBTQ rhetoric into context.
He noted that the comments for which he came under fire were “said not in the context of a campaign but on Christian radio where I’m speaking as a pastor and minister to Christians.”
He also claims that if he were to see someone bullying a gay or transgender person, he would step in “and physically fight for them.”
Jackson is one of four GOP candidates currently running for the seat held held by Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine.
Also seeking the party’s nomination is Corey Stewart, a former Prince William County supervisor who almost toppled Ed Gillespie in this year’s Republican primary after running a Trump-style campaign seizing on preserving Confederate monuments as a way of opposing “political correctness.”
The other Republicans seeking the seat are Ivan Raiklin, a veteran and D.C. tech investor, and Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper), who introduced a bill that would have allowed individuals and businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people without any consequences, so long as they claimed the discrimination was based on their sincerely held religious beliefs.
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