Dalila Ali Rajah
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Dems Won't Seat Homophobe Mark Harris in Congress

Dan McCready and Mark Harris

Democrats, who will have a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives when it reconvenes Thursday, say they won’t seat homophobic Republican Mark Harris of North Carolina due to election fraud.

Harris, an evangelical minister who has made numerous anti-LGBTQ and sexist comments, appeared to have beaten Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the state’s Ninth Congressional District in the November 6 election. But then widespread claims of fraud emerged, such as the collection of absentee ballots by strangers, which is illegal, The Washington Post notes. McCready, who had conceded defeat, withdrew his concession. And North Carolina dissolved its elections board Friday without certifying the results.

“Given the now well-documented election fraud that took place in NC-09, Democrats would object to any attempt by Harris to be seated on January 3,” incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a statement Friday, the Post reports. “In this instance, the integrity of our democratic process outweighs concerns about the seat being vacant at the start of the new Congress.”

 Harris, who has denied any knowledge of wrongdoing in the election, is cooperating with an investigation of the vote, his attorney David B. Freedman told the Post. Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, told CNN that Harris “got more legal votes” and should be certified as the winner.

McCready spokesman Aaron Simpson, however, said Harris and his supporters are trying to interfere with the investigation. “It has become abundantly clear that North Carolinians had their voices silenced during the election in North Carolina’s Ninth District,” he said in a prepared statement, according to the Post. “Mark Harris and his allies promised to support a complete investigation into this attack on our democracy. He has now broken this promise and is instead doing all he can to obstruct this bipartisan investigation.”

The North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics was dissolved Friday by court order due to a ruling that found its partisan makeup unconstitutional, The Charlotte Observer reports. The board was to hold a hearing on the Ninth District race January 11, but a new board will not be seated until January 31. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has said he will appoint an interim board, although Republicans oppose such an action.

Harris had beaten incumbent Robert Pittenger in the Republican primary to become the party’s nominee in the Ninth District, which includes portions of Charlotte and the surrounding area. He has expressed longing for the days when being gay was illegal. “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. He led the effort to add a ban on same-sex marriage to North Carolina’s constitution in 2012; voters approved the ban, but it was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in its marriage equality ruling in 2015.

He has also said that women should submit to their husbands and questioned whether careers were “a healthy pursuit” for women. His supporters have contended those statements were taken out of context. He has had the backing of the American Family Association, an anti-LGBTQ hate group, which has broadcast his sermons on its American Family Radio.

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