Yesterday, the Iowa Independent broke the story that Jeremy Walters — a Republican candidate for the Iowa State house — posted Facebook messages in which he quoted biblical verses saying that gay people should be “put to death” and suggested that AIDS is a punishment for the sin of homosexuality. Walters’ statements were immediately condemned by One Iowa, the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization, and the Iowa Republican party, leading the candidate to remove the posts.
But then Walters contacted me (in response to an earlier request for comment), and in the 15 minute conversation that followed, explained that his outburst was motivated by the recent Prop 8 decision and that he was still uncertain if God was trying to kill gay people:
WALTERS: I just felt people should know what’s in the Bible, you know, scripture…I’m sorry that I even posted that because now I’m getting all of this attention and it’s bad attention, it’s not good attention. What inspired me posting that is because I had a few friends who were both homosexuals and passed away form AIDS.
VOLSKY: I understand that you regret posting it…But do you still believe that AIDS is the result of the sin of homosexuality?
WALTERS: Well, I don’t want to say that I don’t. I just, like I said, had an experience of friends dying….But back to the posting, that post when I posted, I do feel sorry and denounce what I said.
VOLSKY: Ok, so just to be clear, you are denouncing what you said? So you no longer believe that AIDS is God’s way of getting back at the sin of homosexuality?
WALTERS: Well, you know, I want to say that I’ve been seeing a lot of people that are in that lifestyle become with HIV and AIDS, but like I said, you can also get it through dirty needles and things so…. I would have to say that I removed it because it was not right to post it on there and I shouldn’t be picking on their lives, because they’re not picking on my life. I should be an understanding person and not a hater.
Asked what message he has for gay voters, Walters said, “I ask them for forgiveness, I don’t know what else I can do. I feel really bad. Now I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep at night for having this up.” He also assured me that if elected he would take the opinions of people who support gay rights into consideration. “If it came down to the majority of the people in my House district were for gay rights, then I’d take that to that state house and say we need gay rights,” he said.
Walters has released this apology to the Iowa Independent:
I am not against people having a gay lifestyle, and the statements made on Facebook have been taken the wrong way. The statement regarding gay homosexuality was not meant to be offensive and I deeply appologize.
As far as the quote from Bible; I was replying to someone elses post. It should have been posted as a comment on their page, not my Facebook wall. I appologize for the mistake and if this statement offened anyone. Both postings have been removed and these comments do not pertain to my campaign or the Republican Party of Iowa. My passion is to listen and learn from the people so I can represent them at the statehouse. Everyone makes mistakes, please forgive me.