Georgia Republican congressional candidate Vernon Jones, who recently received former President Donald Trump's endorsement, claimed civil rights should not apply to gay people because they “can actually change” to become straight.
Jones, speaking on "War Room," the podcast hosted by Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon, insisted "Civil rights for Blacks, and gay rights for gays are two different things."
You can hear what he said in the video below.
Jones went further, suggesting that gay people should be exempt from civil rights protections because unlike Black people, they can choose not to disclose their identity:
"I don’t know what you are unless you tell me what you are if you’re gay. When I walk into that room, you can tell that I’m Black. I’m Black from cradle to grave. Let’s not get that confused.”
“They can actually change. You know you can go from being straight to being gay to being transgender and all these other genders. When you’re Black, I don’t have a choice. ... When did gays come over here on [slave] ships?”
Suggesting that gay people can simply "change" and become straight is a dangerous proposition.
Conversion therapy, often described as "promoting healthy sexuality" or "sexual reorientation efforts" in right-wing circles as the practice has come under further scrutiny, is defined as any attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Numerous organizations have spoken out against the practice. The American Psychological Association (APA) has affirmed that "there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation."
Other organizations, such as The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), The United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), and The World Health Organization (WHO) have also condemned conversion therapy, citing the wealth of scientific research studies discrediting the practice.
Many have condemned Jones for his statements.
Jones has a long and controversial history as a political candidate.
A 2021 investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that Jones "has a long history of problematic behavior toward women, repeatedly accused of threatening, intimidating and harassing women in his personal and professional lives" over three decades.
In 2003, he was investigated by a grand jury over security detail expenses which cost $800,000 a year, surpassing all other county officials. Later, he paid millions of dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by Georgia Parks Department employees who said Jones, then the chief executive officer of DeKalb County, Georgia, has created a hostile work environment.
Jones last year switched his political party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, making the announcement at the "Stop the Steal" rally just before a mob of former President Trump's supporters attacked the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, in a failed bid to overturn the results of an election Democratic President Joe Biden won handily.