Arkansas House candidate Justin Jones dropped out of the District 87 race on Thursday following a controversial Facebook rant in which he claimed “fags are disgusting” and cause HIV.
During a heated exchange over the FDA’s one-year deferral period on gay blood donations, Jones claimed that a “fag” is “1000% more likely than any straight person” to be HIV-positive. When Myah Baeza, a Hawaii woman who originally posted about the discriminatory policy, challenged the libertarian on why he would believe such a thing, he doubled down by saying: “Because it’s true.”
“Fags are disgusting,” Jones said.
After his comments made national news, the Elm Springs politician initially claimed he would stay in the raceeven despite calls within his own party for him to step down.
Jones said the remarks were “satire.”
“In the new day of Social Media, we face backlash for every comment we make, which is putting ‘Free Speech’ at a price,” Jones said in a statement published after the controversy gained national attention. “The AIDS Epidemic is a VERY big part of the LGBTQ Community. To not recognize that would be a ‘Lie’ to yourself and the LGBTQ Community.”
But shortly after INTO reported on the politicians’ remarks on Tuesday, his official campaign website abruptly went offline. Visitors are greeted by a 404 notice: “Page Not Found.”
Today Jones confirmed he is leaving the race to the Arkansas news station KFSM-TV.
His campaign manager, David New, claimed that the candidate “has nothing more to say on this matter.” Although Jones has yet to comment on his reasons for dropping out of the election at the time of publication, New claimed the politician had already “made his statement.”
The local Libertarian Party isn’t sad to see him go.
Benton County Libertarian Party Michael Kalagias told KFSM-TV that someone with Jones’ views on LGBTQ people isn’t a good fit for a party focused on decreasing the size and scope of government. He said politicians who don’t adhere to those principles “don’t need to be” libertarians.
“[Y]ou’re not representing us,” Kalagias said. “We’re a pretty broad tent but there’s still places you can’t go and still call yourself a Libertarian.”
Libertarian Party of Arkansas Chairman Dr. Michael Pakko has been one of the party’s most vocal opponents of Jones’ rhetoric. Claiming that the statements are “completely antithetical” to libertarian values, he noted that the Libertarian Party has supported same-sex marriage rights since it was founded 48 years ago.
That’s decades ahead of the Democratic and Republican parties on the issue.
“We believe that the rights of the individual are paramountthat each person has the right to make decisions for themselves about what activities to pursue, what to eat and drink, and who to love,” Pakko told the news station.
His opponents in the race, Republican Robin Lundstrum and Democrat Kelly Scott Unger, also condemned the remarks.
In a statement posted to Facebook, Unger claimed she is “horrified by the nature and content” by his comments and that there’s “no room… in politics or in society” for someone with his rabidly anti-LGBTQ views. Lundstrom added that she is “mortified” by the controversies of the past week.
“Mr. Jones’ decision to leave the race was the right decision,” she told KFSM-TV.
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