Virginia’s Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, E.W. Jackson, says he's not sorry for controversial remarks he’s made in the past about women’s rights, homosexuality and the Ku Klux Klan, which African-American leaders in the Democratic Party on Wednesday called "hateful rhetoric."
Jackson has drawn fire for comments he made in a 2012 Youtube “message to black Christians,” including calling gays and lesbians “perverted” and “very sick people.”
"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,” Jackson said in the video. “Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was. And the Democrat Party and the black civil rights allies are partners in this genocide."
He also criticized African-Americans for “slavish devotion” to the Democratic Party.
Democrats immediately seized on his words earlier in the week. During a Tuesday campaign stop in Fredericksburg, Jackson told The Washington Post and other media that his political stances are founded on his religious and moral beliefs.
“I say the things that I say because I’m a Christian, not because I hate anybody, but because I have religious values that matter to me,” Jackson said Tuesday.
He said critics who condemn his stances are also condemning every person who holds those beliefs and values, the Post reports.
“Attacking me because I hold to those principles is attacking every church-going person, every family that’s living a traditional family life, everybody who believes that we all deserve the right to live,” Jackson said.
But several Democratic African-American leaders from around Virginia hosted a conference call Wednesday to express their concern about Jackson’s words, which they said pushed an agenda that could ultimately be damaging to Virginia families.
Alexandria City Mayor Bill Euille said he was “disappointed” that the Republican Party had nominated a candidate who would use “divisive and hateful rhetoric that demeans the intelligence of African-American voters.”
Women rely on Planned Parenthood for birth control pills as well as breast cancer screenings, said state Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton).
“[They] don't need a lieutenant governor who compared the important organization to the KKK,” she said. “That rhetoric is ugly, mean-spirited and completely out of touch with reality.”
Roanoke City Councilman Sherman Lea said he believed African-Americans would be smart enough to pay Jackson’s words no heed.
“Jackson’s words are offensive and I think African Americans will see through that,” Lea said.
Dwight Jones, mayor of Richmond City, said Jackson’s comments were simply demeaning, and all of the leaders said it was unnerving that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli hadn’t denounced them.
"Let's make one thing clear right now – nothing is 'like slavery',” Jones said. “And those who compare partisan politics to one of the worst institutions in human history do a grave disservice to us all."
The Fairfax County branch of the NAACP was similarly upset about the remarks.
“Mr. Jackson’s statements and his belief that he has ‘nothing to apologize for’ is the core of insensitive and irresponsible leadership,” said branch president Shirley Ginright in an email to Patch. “These comments drive wedges between Virginians and fail to promote compromise and solutions for the common good.”
Jackson is a pastor and attorney from Chesapeake, as well as a graduate from Harvard Law School. He defeated six opponents at the Republican Party of Virginia’s convention on May 18 to win the nomination for lieutenant governor.
“I don’t have anything to rephrase or apologize for,” he told the Post. “I would just say people should not paint me as one-dimensional.”