As Republicans in Alabama’s First Congressional District head to the polls Tuesday to vote in the Republican primary, new evidence shows far-right candidate Dean Young has a long history of homophobia.
Young gained notoriety in August when he called for his eight fellow candidates to sign his “Pledge to Oppose Gay Marriage.” But Mother Jones revealed Monday that Young’s homophobia has always been the centerpiece of his politics.
In a failed 2002 bid for Mississippi Secretary of State, Young seemingly denied the idea that native Alabamans could be gay, implying that they were immigrants from out of state. “If they don’t like the laws of Alabama…then maybe they need to go back to California or Vermont or wherever they came from,” he told the Associated Press. At the time, he defended his homophobia by pointing to Alabama’s anti-sodomy laws, which were struck down by the Supreme Court a year later. He insisted that advocating against homosexuality was “no different than speaking against murder and other crimes. It breaks the law of Alabama to have homosexual conduct and is against the laws of nature and nature’s God.”
In 1996, Young was a spokesman for Judge Roy Moore, the Alabama justice who became a darling of Christian conservatives for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom. While speaking at a courthouse rally in Moore’s defense, he addressed gay rights’ advocates: “Get your lives straight or you get back in the closet where you came from. The people of Etowah County are going to stand against the homosexual lifestyle and against things that are against the laws of God.” A year later, he would proclaim at another rally, “If animals tried it, they would get bit.” He would go on to say, “We love all homosexuals, but we don’t appreciate their lifestyle. To the homosexuals who will not change, you are not welcome here in Etowah County or in the state of Alabama.”
It is safe to say that Young’s stances on homosexuality and marriage equality have not “evolved” in his newest bid for office. Calling it “time for men and women of faith to stand for the founding Christian values and morals that made our nation great, to defend our families and the sacred holiness of marriage,” his recent pledge calls for fighting marriage equality and acceptance of the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality.
If Young wins the Republican primary Tuesday, his path to Congress is all but certain. Alabama’s First Congressional District is deeply conservative, and no Democrat has been elected to Congress since 1963.
Christopher Butterfield is an intern for ThinkProgress.