Sheriff’s Candidate Claims GOP Refused To Let Him Run Because He’s Gay

“The party today wants to be a theocracy," says former police detective Jason White.

A former police detective claims he was denied permission to run for sheriff in Alabama because he’s gay.

Jason White previously ran for sheriff of Limestone County in 2002, but lost the Republican primary. He was married to a woman at the time, but came out a year later. He decided to run again this year but claims he was made to undergo a much more rigorous application process.

In addition to submitting the qualifying paperwork and fee, White had to complete a questionnaire which asked if he ever voted Democrat, if he believed in “the traditional definition of marriage,” and if he was “committed to protecting life at all ages.”

White, 40, was then called in for an interview with the Limestone County GOP steering committee, which he believes was atypical. During the interview, which included roughly 10 members, he was asked to name two weakness he has as a candidate.

“I said the fact I was fired,” he recalled, “and that I’m gay.”

White says the rest of the conversation was spent discussing his sexual orientation, with members saying things like, “We don’t think we’d be able to raise any money for you,” and “We’re a small southern town—how are we going to get around that?”

Noah Wahl, chairman of the Limestone County Republican Executive Committee, told White two-thirds of the 34-member committee voted against letting him run. As many have pointed out, the state’s Republican Party had no problem backing Roy Moore for Congress, despite his being removed from the state Supreme Court twice and being accused of sexually abusing teenage girls.

White, who is considering running as an independent, told WAFF 48, “I’m disappointed, but I’m not deterred.”

In 2013, he married Navy SEAL Brett Jones and the couple lives in Athens with their teenage son. He still embraces what he sees as Republican values. “I have been a Republican since I was 18,” he told WAFF. “I am a business owner and I like that they want to keep their hands off business. Also, I am a financial conservative. They are all the things I believe in.”

Nevertheless, he notes a stark change in the GOP.

“It is not the party I remember,” he says. “The party today wants to be a theocracy. I was hoping more people like me could try to change it. I respect other people’s religious beliefs, but I think there is a reason they should remain separate from government—because people have different religions.”

He says it’s “un-American” to turn away experienced people who want to serve their community. “I would think that any citizen who qualifies to run for an office should be allowed to be on the ballot.”

With White off the ballot, the Limestone County Republican Party has until February 9 to find another candidate to go up against longtime Democratic incumbent Mike Blakely.

Zachary Zane is a writer and activist whose work focuses on sexuality, culture, and academic research. He has contributed to The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and The Advocate.