Mark Harris, the Republican congressional nominee in North Carolina’s 9th District, regrets that homosexuality is no longer criminalized, according to a clip unearthed this week by Media Matters.
Speaking at a “rally for liberty” in September 2015, Harris bemoaned the way the country had been changing in recent years, pontificating at length about how upset he was by the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling a few months prior. He insisted that the rise of LGBTQ equality was an example of how “we are a nation which is spiritually out of balance in every way”:
In one generation you and I have witnessed this country sliding from a nation who once shared a moral vision based on Judeo-Christian ethic to a nation floundering in moral decay. In one generation we have watched our nation who once believed in lifelong marriages to the same spouse to a divorce rate now well over 50 percent. We have watched in one generation where homosexuality was once criminalized to now we see the criminalization of Christianity. And I could go on and on with the entertainment, with the education, with the life issue.
While Harris is better known for being a right-wing pastor, the remarks in question were made well into his career as a politician. He first ran for U.S. Senate in 2014, finishing third in the Republican primary. In 2016, he challenged Congressman Robert Pittenger (R-NC), but lost the primary by a mere 134 votes. This year, he challenged Pittenger again and won the nomination, having been celebrated by the National Republican Congressional Committee as one of its “young guns.”
Harris also has a storied political career in issue advocacy. In 2012, he helped lead the effort to help pass North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which amended the state constitution to ban marriage between same-sex couples. In 2016, he likewise campaigned for HB 2, North Carolina’s infamous “bathroom bill” that mandated discrimination against transgender people.
There seems to be no conservative position Harris won’t take. He believes that being gay is a choice, that women should submit to their husbands instead of pursuing careers, and that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. As Media Matters notes, he accordingly has storied relationships with many anti-LGBTQ hate groups, including the Family Research Council — which endorsed him — and the American Family Association.
According to a July poll, Harris lags seven points behind his Democratic opponent, Dan McCready. While the media focused this week on Harris’ past remarks about wives submitting to their husbands, Harris decided to lash out at McCready for accepting money from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s House Majority PAC.