Black GOP Virginia Lt. gov. nominee stirs controversy with anti-gay views

OPINION - Virginia Republicans have selected a dyed-in-the-wool, black conservative minister and activist as their nominee for lieutenant governor. And he has drawn particular criticism for his homophobic views...

Virginia Republicans have selected a dyed-in-the-wool, black conservative minister and activist as their nominee for lieutenant governor.  And he has drawn particular criticism for his homophobic views.

E.W. Jackson won the nomination over six rivals, becoming the first black Republican nominee in 25 years.  “I am not an African-American, I am an American!” he proclaimed recently at the GOP’s Tea-Party-infused state convention in Richmond.  And he attributes his shift from the Democrats to the Republicans to his faith, which he apparently uses to justify his intolerant, anti-gay positions.

For example, Jackson called homosexuality a poison. “It poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few [sic] things that we can think of,” he said.  In addition, he has said gays are “frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality.”  Moreover, the candidate equated homosexuality with pedophilia, and said gays attempt to “sexualize” children “at the earliest possible age.”

A history of homophobic statements

The Harvard law graduate also believes that people in the LGBT community “want to destroy the very faith which established this nation, with gay marriage as their weapon, a sledgehammer used to shatter our Judeo-Christian culture.”

The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was, in his opinion, “a disaster of historic proportions.”  Pro-gay rights liberals, Jackson asserts, “have done more to kill black folks whom they claim so much to love than the Ku Klux Klan, lynching and slavery and Jim Crow ever did…”  Homosexuality, in his view has killed black men “by the thousands” and gays are frustrating to black women as well because “so many of these guys are homosexuals.”

And when it comes to comparing the civil rights struggle of African-Americans to the gay rights movement, Jackson will have none of it, calling such a comparison an insult. “Homosexuals have no history of slavery, Jim Crow, lynching or being legally defined as 2/3 [sic] of a person,” he said. “I have known people who have been delivered from homosexuality. I have never known anyone to be delivered from being black. The Democrat Party’s commitment to abortion, homosexuality and moral relativism is an affront to the values of the black Christian community.”“Black Christians do not belong in a ‘coalition of the godless,’” Jackson added, “and should not vote for those who are.”

Black community betraying God?

Further, Jackson wants to ask black voters why they are “allowing the Tea Party to be made into your enemy and the radical homosexual rights people to be made into your friends and allies when they reject everything you believe and most of the Tea Party activists embrace everything you believe.” Jackson urged blacks to “come out of that indoctrination, what I call a liberal plantation of psychological bondage.”

But he doesn’t stop there.  Jackson has had some choice words for the Democrats as well, accusing them of “saturating the black community with ridiculous lies.”  He calls for an “exodus” from the so-called “Democrat” party as he and other conservatives usually call it.  Jackson also called President Obama evil, an atheist and a secret Muslim, which would appear contradictory.  He also referred to the Obamas as Communist sympathizers  who “don’t understand our country, I don’t think they even like it,” he added.   

“The black community will never prosper by betraying God and following leadership that curries the favor of the Democrat party,” Jackson says. “It is time for Christians to have the faith and courage to refuse to associate with a political party that has become anti-Christian, anti-church, anti-bible, anti-life, anti-family and anti-God.”

Playing the slavery card

And in the process, he has portrayed the Democrats as the dreaded institution of slavery. “They can say anything they want about me, but I do not intend to leave Christians in bondage to a party that is hostile to everything Christians hold dear,” Jackson said. “When a party disdains God and His word, as the Democrat Party clearly does, it is time to leave that party.”

Further, the firebrand candidate has compared Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan.  “The Democrat Party has created an unholy alliance between certain so-called civil rights leaders and Planned Parenthood, which has killed unborn black babies by the tens of millions. Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was,” Jackson said in a video attempting to sway African-American voters.  “And the Democrat Party and their black civil rights allies are partners in this genocide.”  As Right Wing Watch notes, Jackson regards civil rights groups such as the NAACP as “race baiters” who should agree with the Tea party if they truly worshiped God and the Bible.

All of this ugliness from Jackson poses a big problem for the top of the ticket, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.  Cuccinelli—who has made a name for himself among the right-wing base for his attacks on Obamacare and abortion, not to mention his anti-gay, anti-tax and anti-environmental agenda—is now trying to position himself as a political moderate focusing on jobs and the economy rather than hot-button social issues, as the Washington Post reports.  Cuccinelli is in a tight race behind the Democratic opponent— former DNC head Terry McCauliffe.  McCauliffe needs the black vote to win in a state that was in the bag for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Meanwhile, off-year elections such as this tend to attract more white voters.

“We’re in a deep [expletive],” laments one Virginia Republican operative, while claiming the Democratic opponent will help the Republican ticket win in the general election.

But the gubernatorial candidate is in the unenviable and unrealistic position of attempting to distance himself from his running mate.  The nominee for lieutenant governor is chosen in a separate process from the up ticket pick.  Cuccinelli already has warned his party against divisive social issues.  Such a stance could help him with some moderate swing voters out there, but only by alienating the Tea Party base in the process.

A winning strategy…for the Tea Party

Meanwhile, here we have a black candidate who eschews his blackness, compares Democrats, supporters of women’s reproductive rights and other liberal allies to the Klan and godless perpetrators of genocide.  And he calls gays and lesbians every name but a child of God. 

Now perhaps that’s a winning strategy for the Tea Party, but ultimately that ship won’t sail in Virginia, once the most conservative Southern state now transitioning to blue territory.  And surely that will not win black votes.

When Adam Clayton Powell said, “Harvard has ruined more Negroes than bad whiskey,” he must have had E. J. Jackson in mind.  As a Harvard grad, I hope it isn’t true.  But seriously, one thing is for certain.  E. J. Jackson is the one who needs prayer.  His statements are offensive, shocking and beyond the pale.  And apparently he never got the memo that we live in the modern world, and homophobia is unacceptable.

Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove