A politician who believes that homosexuality is more dangerous than smoking is poised to win election to the Missouri House of Representatives.
Hardy Billington is running as the sole Republican candidate in Missouri House District 152. His victory is all but a sure thing in a deep-red district where four-fifths of voters went for Donald Trump in 2016. Incumbent Todd Richardson, who is term-limited from seeking reelection, has run in the previous two elections unopposed.
Reports indicate that Billington has far outraised Democratic opponent Robert Smith, raking in $85,000 in the first quarter. The Missouri Times called the total a “strong start” ahead of his probable election.
That might be good news for Missouri Republicans. But it’s downright terrible for LGBTQ people.
Prior to running for office, the 65-year-old former business owner ran an advertisement in the Daily American Republic supporting a 2012 law banning teachers from discussing topics related to sexual orientation in schools. House Bill 2051, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, would have banned all mention of subject outside of science classrooms.
Billington claimed homosexuality is a public health issue that shouldn’t be promoted in classrooms.
“Study after study reveals that homosexuality, whether male or female, can take anywhere from 10, 20, to 30 years off of someone’s lifespan,” he alleged in a later Facebook post.
“With all the attention on smoking, which the National Cancer Institute says takes from seven to 10 years off someone’s life, why not the same human outcry on homosexuality?” Billington continued. “Here’s a behavior that’s killing people two to three times the rate of smoking, yet nobody seems to care.”
The conservative concluded teaching LGBTQ-affirming curricula was merely “encouraging and affirming individuals into the ‘gay’ lifestyle.”
“If you truly love someone, you would steer them away from self-destructive behaviors, rather than towards them, shouldn’t you?” Billington asked. “Homosexuals need our tough love, not blind love, the kind of love that is going to love them no matter what they say and do.”
“We must extend that helping hand and say, ‘I think you’re worth saving,’” he added. “Let’s work on it together.”
After the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, Billington bought yet another anti-LGBTQ newspaper spread. “Homosexuality is sin,” he claimed in the 2015 ad. “The love of Jesus can save you and change you.”
This wasn’t even the first time he took aim at marriage equality. A promotional blurb for Billington’s book The Election by Faith in ’04 referred to the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling extending full marriage rights to same-sex couples as an “outrage,” claiming it was disgraceful that “such a decision could even be considered, let alone put into law.”
Smith, an assistant prosecutor, suggested Billington’s views are well-known to locals. That’s why the Democrat chose to ran against him.
“I’ve known Hardy for 30 years, and I knew he had published those ads,” Smith told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I don’t think it’s right to discriminate against people because of who they are.”
But as the race attracts national attention in the wake of Billington’s comments, his campaign team signaled he won’t back down.
“He’s not afraid to let anybody know that that’s his position, his personal conviction,” said Campaign Treasurer Thomas W. Graham, Jr. told the newspaper. “That doesn’t mean that he has any animosity toward somebody that doesn’t hold that conviction.”
The primaries for District 152 will be held Tuesday. As both candidates have no challengers in their respective races, they will face off in November.
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