A Georgia Republican candidate for Congress said that civil rights for Black people shouldn’t apply to gay people because “they can actually change” to become straight.
Vernon Jones, who is running for Georgia’s open 10th Congressional District seat and was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, made the comment during an appearance on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast on April 7.
“Let me tell you, civil rights for Blacks and gay rights for gays are two different things,” Jones told the former Trump advisor. “I don’t know what you are unless you tell me what you are if you’re gay, but when I walk into that room, you can tell that I’m Black. I’m Black from cradle to grave. Let’s not get that confused, but they can actually change.”
Jones also claimed that people can “go from being straight to being gay to being transgender and all these other genders,” reports HuffPost. “But when you’re Black, I don’t have a choice. When did gays come over here on ships?”
Jones doubled down on this argument on Twitter, taking a jab at the drag community, specifically Drag Queen Story Hour, an event that has become a point of contention in several cities or states throughout the United States — primarily because opponents appear to confuse dressing in drag with being transgender — especially when held in public libraries funded by taxpayer dollars.
“The Left wants to compare being black to being gay. And let me make one thing clear: that’s not just a lie. It’s a damn lie. MLK didn’t fight for the right to read to children dressed up as a woman; he fought for REAL equality! Don’t confuse it!” Jones tweeted.
Jones’ tweet received pushback on Twitter, with some critics bringing up that people can be Black and gay, such as civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin.
“Vernon. Meet Bayard Rustin, a gay activist, and Dr. King’s strategist,” tweeted one user.
Vernon. Meet Bayard Rustin, a gay activist, and Dr. King’s strategist. pic.twitter.com/XRyQNbTdlF
— Hank (@hankboyd) April 9, 2022
“So, there are no gay black people?? ok,” tweeted another.
So, there are no gay black people??
— Bread & Circuses 🍞🎪🎪 (@FeasterFamine) April 8, 2022
“Having the hubris… the arrogance to suggest that there were no LGBTQ individuals amongst the Africans who were forced to come over, in bondage, to the Western Hemisphere… smh,” tweeted a third.
Having the hubris… the arrogance to suggest that there were no LGBTQ individuals amongst the Africans who were forced to come over, in bondage, to the Western Hemisphere…
— Benevolent Bandit 🍎✌🇮🇪🇳🇴🏳️🌈🇺🇸 (@Insert_Metaphor) April 8, 2022
“By that logic, civil rights shouldn’t apply to religion because you can choose to be atheist,” tweeted another user.
By that logic, civil rights shouldn't apply to religion because you can choose to be atheist.
— I'm A Foodie Girl In A Foodie World (@Ilya_Elante) April 9, 2022
The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on membership in a number of enumerated classes, including race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.
In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ individuals are protected from employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits sex-based discrimination.
Jones, a former Democratic state representative, was a keynote speaker at the 20202 Republican National Convention after he endorsed former President Trump’s re-election in 2020, citing Trump’s support for historically black colleges and his criminal justice initiatives. But The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently reported that Jones voted in the Democratic presidential primary that year.
Jones initially launched a bid for Georgia governor but dropped out of the race in February after meeting with Trump, who had already endorsed former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) for governor. Jones then switched to the open 10th Congressional District seat, immediately earning Trump’s endorsement for being “an American-first fighter.”
In the run-up to the 2022 midterms, the Republican Party has seized on LGBTQ rights, specifically transgender rights, as a wedge issue, with Republican-led legislatures moving to ban transgender athletes from competing in female-designated sports or bar transgender youth from receiving gender-affirming medical care.
GOP politicians have also sought to siphon away some voters from Democrats by arguing the party has become too permissive on the issue of LGBTQ books or curriculum content in schools.
During the podcast interview, Jones accused Democrats of “breaking down the moral fiber and fabric of the African American community” with woke ideology, a catch-all term used to encompass any progressive values, from support for LGBTQ rights to a belief in structural racism to skepticism about American history as it has traditionally been taught in schools.
“To see what’s happening now, it’s un-American,” Jones said. “It’s going to take conservative African Americans to save the Republican Party. Because they saved us from slavery.”
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