Congressional hopeful Mark Harris has a plan to Make America Great Again: outlaw homosexuality.
Old comments resurfaced this week in which the GOP candidate for North Carolina’s 9th House district claimed America is “sliding from a nation who once shared a moral vision based on Judeo-Christian ethic to a nation floundering in moral decay.” In a 2015 speech delivered at a “religious freedom” rally, he alleged that LGBTQ people are to blame for the nation’s incipient wickedness.
“[H]omosexuality was once criminalized… now we see the criminalization of Christianity,” Harris said, in comments originally unearthed by Media Matters.
In an interview with Roll Call, the Republican claimed his opinions have not changed since, which isn’t surprising given his considerable track record of opposing LGBTQ equality. Harris was one of the leading voices in North Carolina opposing a 2016 ordinance passed by the Charlotte City Council banning discrimination against transgender people in all areas of public accommodation.
Faith Matters, Inc., a grassroots Christian advocacy group on which Harris serves as vice chair, campaigned heavily to stop the ordinance. A year before the law passed, the organization ran a radio advertisement in which a mother lamented she would “be really scared if a man shared a bathroom with [her] daughter.”
“This nightmare could become a reality right here in Charlotte if we don’t speak up quickly,” she said, noting that the ordinance allowed trans people to use public restrooms consistent with their gender identity.
At Charlotte’s Rise Up Conference in February 2016, Harris appeared alongside anti-LGBTQ activists like The Benham Brothers, who believe homophobia is fake news, and hate groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom, which have pushed anti-trans bathroom bills in a dozen U.S. states.
“We are in a state of emergency!” Harris warned Charlotte, just days before the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance finally passed in a 7-2 vote.
It would be repealed following the introduction of North Carolina’s infamous HB 2.
But the First Baptist Church of Charlotte minister has long been on the frontlines of opposing LGBTQ rights in the Tar Heel State. In 2005, Harris donated $50,000 in favor of Amendment 1, which limited the state’s definition of marriage to “one man and one woman.” He claimed the successful voter referendum was about “standing up for the values and principles that have been a part of the fabric of American society.”
Harris also believes homosexuality is a “choice.”
Although Harris was recently lauded by the Republican Congressional Committee as one of the “young guns” fueling a new generation of conservatism, these comments may prove yet another hurdle in an already tough race for the U.S. House of Representatives.
After defeating incumbent Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger in the GOP primaries, he currently trails Democrat Don McCready by seven points.
McCready, a small business owner and former Marine, has blasted his opponent’s comments as “out of step with this district and this century.” In addition to his anti-LGBTQ remarks, Harris also called on wives to “submit” to their husbands and once asked if having women in the workplace is a “healthy pursuit for society.”
“As a Christian, I believe that we are all created in God’s image,” the Democrat responded on Twitter. “That means men and women are equally valuable and equally capable.”
Republicans have held North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District since 1963.