From KARK: a reminder that homophobia is alive and well and sometimes running for public office.
Jessi Tunure reported Monday evening on the Facebook musings of Justin Jones, a Libertarian candidate challenging Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs) for a state House seat in Northwest Arkansas. Jones chose to comment on a Facebook post made by a friend — in the Facebook sense of the word, that is — who lamented the fact that rules on blood donations continue to treat men who have sex with men differently than heterosexual people. The friend, Myah Baeza, spoke with KARK after their online exchange.
“The likelihood of a fag catching HIV is 1000% more likely then [sic] any straight person,” Jones wrote on Baeza’s post.
Baeza asked Jones the obvious question: “Why in God’s name would you say that?” After a couple more exchanges, Jones declared that “fags are disgusting.”
The chair of the state Libertarian Party, Michael Pakko, denounced Jones’ remarks and noted the party has supported marriage equality for decades. “The denigrating, insulting comments that have been attributed to him have no place in the political messaging of the Libertarian Party, and we disassociate ourselves from such offensive remarks,” Pakko told KARK.
(As an aside, this episode raises a question: Just what exactly does it mean to be a libertarian these days, now that partisan political identity seems to be both everything and nothing? I get the impression some folks out there now think “libertarian” just implies “to the right of conventional Republican,” rather than being a distinct political philosophy in itself. Jones’ website declares that “symbols of Christian heritage should not be removed from public and government spaces,” for example. Is the state Libertarian Party vetting these people?)
Meanwhile, Jones issued this gem of a statement to KARK, which he also posted on his Weebly-designed campaign website:
I recently made a comment that was meant to be satire, but had FACTUAL meaning. In the new day of Social Media, we face backlash for every comment we make, which is putting ‘Free Speech’ at a price. The Aids Epidemic is a VERY big part of the LGBTQ Community. To not recognize that would be a ‘Lie’ to yourself and the LGBTQ Community. In this New Day of politics, we are recognizing the benefits of throwing away the old establishment, and how that didn’t work. Today, we are bringing back ‘FREEDOM OF SPEECH,’ and protecting our 2nd amendment rights. That might be too much for some people, but that’s why we’re getting them out of Public Office. Let’s get back to ‘Making Arkansas Great Again.’ Vote Justin Jones for State Representative, District 87.
There’s also a Democrat running for the seat, by the way: Kelly Scott Unger.
Thank you, Justin Jones, for calling attention to the double standard that the Food and Drug Administration applies to gay and bi male blood donors, regardless of whether they are in a committed monogamous partnership. Until 2015, there was a lifetime prohibition on blood donations from men who have sex with men. Today, a man who is married to another man must be celibate for 12 months in order to donate blood in the U.S. Straight people who regularly have sex with multiple partners are bound by no such waiting period. In other words, the rules safeguarding our blood supply aren’t based on promiscuity but on sexual orientation.