GOP House candidate Mark Assini, who is hoping to unseat Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter in New York’s 25th district, has landed in hot water over anti-LGBT comments made on a conservative blog ten year ago.
Local Democrats and members of the district’s LGBT community gathered in downtown Rochester last week to draw attention to the remarks, which were written between 2005 and 2009 on the website Writers on the Loose.
The backlash is focused on Assini’s responses to comments on his pieces. Though the blog has since been deleted, the comment thread can still be seen, which shows Assini agreeing with a reader who called LGBT people “sexual deviants.” In the same response, Assini quoted a pastor who described transgender individuals as “mentally disturbed.”
In another post, Assini wrote that Barney Frank, then an openly gay member of Congress, should go to prison where he would have “plenty of dates along with three squares and cable TV.”
Assini has confirmed that the comments are his, but also insists that his views have changed since writing them. He said that his stance on LGBT equality had “evolved,” crediting a 2013 statement from Pope Francis, which read: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will who am I to judge?”
Assini added that he isn’t the only politician to change his opinion on marriage equality, arguing that President Obama changed his in 2012 and Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton changed hers in 2013.
“It’s not today. It’s not yesterday,” Assini said of his shift in position. “It’s been a couple of years that position has evolved…To try and hold somebody to a standard from a decade ago is a tough thing to do.”
“I deleted these [posts] years ago…because, as I was moving forward, I was struggling with what my beliefs were,” he concluded. “[I decided] I’d prefer to just delete these because I am not sure where I am going with this. It was a tough transition.”
For local democrats, however, Assini’s change of heart isn’t enough.
“If you have evolved, tell me something you’ve done for the LGBTQ community,” out Democratic Assemblyman Harry Bronson said at the rally. “Sending out words that say you are something other, you are something different, you are something unworthy, these words matter.”
Slaughter, a longtime supporter and advocate of the LGBT community, will certainly walk away with the LGBT vote come November 8.
h/t: Daily Kos