While there has been much for LGBTQ people to celebrate about Tuesday's midterm election, there has been some bad news too - including the election of a rabid homophobe to a U.S. House seat from North Carolina.
Republican Mark Harris, an evangelical minister who has expressed longing for the days when homosexuality was outlawed, prevailed over Democrat Dan McCready in North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District, which includes portions of Charlotte and the surrounding area.
McCready, a small-business owner, conceded defeat to Harris Wednesday afternoon, with Harris having declared victory much earlier, The Charlotte Observer reports. Harris won by 49.4 percent to 48.8 percent, with the remainder going to Libertarian Jeff Scott. McCready received more of the vote in urban areas, Harris in rural ones.
Harris, who had defeated incumbent Robert Pittenger in the Republican primary, has a long history of anti-LGBTQ and sexist rhetoric. "We have watched in one generation where homosexuality was once criminalized to now we see the criminalization of Christianity. And I could go on and on with the entertainment, with the education, with the life issue," he said at an event in 2015.
In 2012 he led the fight for a North Carolina constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The amendment passed, but it was struck down, along with similar laws in other states, by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015.
Shortly after the ruling, he said, "Five rogue lawyers on the U.S. Supreme Court say 'no' and suddenly the media is sweeping the county saying same-sex marriage is the law of the land." He contended that such changes in law can be made only by legislatures, not courts.
He continues to hold that view, although he told the Observer this year that he accepts that same-sex marriage is "exercised currently as the law."
He has also claimed that America is in "moral decay" and has been heavily backed by the American Family Association, a designated anti-LGBTQ hate group, which has gone so far as to stream his sermons on its American Family Radio. He has further said that people are not born LGBTQ but choose that identity.
On gender roles, he has said that women should submit to their husbands and questioned whether careers were "a healthy pursuit" for women. His defenders have said those statements were taken out of context and that he has encouraged women associates to rise in their careers. However, he is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, which notably does not allow women to be ministers and also teaches that being LGBTQ is not acceptable.
McCready told reporters Wednesday that although he disagrees with Harris on many issues, he "never doubted his commitment" to the nation. He also urged his supporters not to lose hope. "We didn't win this campaign," he said, "but there is no doubt in my mind that our efforts ... moved this country forward."