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New York State Senate Candidate: Keep Same-Sex Couples Out of Textbooks

New York State Senate Candidate: Keep Same-Sex Couples Out of Textbooks

S.J. Jung
S.J. Jung

That's one of the antigay remarks that have surfaced from S.J. Jung, and condemnation has been swift.

Korean-American LGBT groups and allies are condemning antigay remarks made by a New York State Senate candidate -- among them that he wants to keep pictures of same-sex couple out of textbooks.

S.J. Jung, who is of Korean descent, made that statement at a meeting in March, but it just surfaced this week. Jung was speaking to a group made up largely of Korean church congregations, the New York Daily News reports.

An account of the meeting in Korean, now translated into English, found Jung mentioning legislation that has been hard for religious people to accept and asking people to pray "so I can get elected to the New York State Senate to stop this from happening," according to the Daily News. The paper does not specify which legislation but does note that Jung, although a Democrat, is an opponent of marriage equality.

He is challenging incumbent Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky in the Democratic primary, to be held September 13. They are running in a district in Queens; she defeated him in the 2014 primary. Stavisky voted in favor of the state's marriage equality bill, passed in 2011.

At the March meeting, Jung also said, "I pray Jesus Christ's love to spread and his message speak through this election and your prayer of faith to make me become a warrior clad in armor," the Daily News reports.

Contacted by the Daily News late last week, Jung did not deny making the comment about textbook pictures, but said he did not have a specific bill in mind to ban them. He said he was referring to "a general trend in the nation," and that he believes religious freedom is being threatened.

Several Korean-American LGBT and allied groups issued a joint statement today condemning Jung's remarks. It reads in full:

"S.J. Jung's backwards remarks about LGBTQ people are out of sync with a place as diverse as Queens, which has a vibrant LGBTQ immigrant community. As LGBTQ Korean-Americans, their family members and their allies, we are deeply disappointed to see a man who has done such important work in Korean-American communities express such bigotry around LGBTQ communities, marriage and public education. His harmful wish to literally erase LGBTQ people from school textbooks ignores the existence of people like us and our families, who live every day at the intersection of LGBTQ and Korean identities.

"When community leaders like Jung make homophobic and transphobic remarks, it is absolutely devastating to young people in their communities who are struggling to come out. As a community leader, Jung has a moral responsibility to be a voice for these LGBTQ young people -- not a megaphone for outdated bigotry.

"We urge Jung to think long and hard about the damaging impact of his words, reevaluate the positions he has taken, and meet with the organizations that have signed on to this statement."

Endorsers of the statement are Dari Project, Korean Americans United for Equality, Korean American Rainbow Parents, Korean Americans for Political Advancement, Asian Pacific Islander Project of PFLAG NYC, National Queer Asian American and Pacific Islander Alliance, Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York, Q-WAVE, and Asian Pride Project.

Stavisky's campaign staff declined to comment on Jung's remarks, but New York City Council member Daniel Dromm, one of the first openly gay officials elected in Queens, was quick to denounce them. Dromm told the Daily News it was "hard to believe" that someone from the diverse borough "would continue to hold those views in this day and age."

"He is ignoring reality; same-sex couples exist," Dromm added. "Children see them. They know about them. They should be taught about them. What is he going to do, continue to deny reality? We're everywhere."

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