Roy Moore isn’t the only homophobe in the race for Alabama’s Republican U.S. Senate nomination.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, who entered the Senate race last month, recently blamed television for cultural decay and said viewers are “too interested in homosexual activities” and shows about mate-swapping.
“That’s what we’ve allowed to happen,” he said Saturday at the DeKalb County, Ala., Republican Breakfast Club meeting, Alabama publication Yellowhammer News reports. “How have we allowed it to happen? There are no more good TV shows on like Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Virginian, Andy Griffith, I Love Lucy. We don’t have those shows anymore. We’re too interested in homosexual activities. We’re too interested in seeing how this family’s finding a way to mess on this family or to see how people are trying to date on TV, or having wife-swapping on TV. That’s what we watch. When we push back against that, and we quit allowing it to be in our homes — that’s how those changes have occurred because we’ve allowed them to slowly but surely come into our lives.”
When contacted by other publications, Merrill confirmed that the made those statements. “I meant what I said,” he told AL.com, a website for several Alabama newspapers. “People are too interested in anything that is not uplifting, edifying. They’re too busy being preoccupied with homosexual activities and the wife swap shows.”
He declined to give examples of shows that portray “homosexual activities” or mate-swapping, but he said there are no longer TV programs “that are based on biblical foundations. ... Shows that promote family and culture with a father, a mother, and children based on biblical teachings and biblical principles on which our nation was founded.”
It should be noted that in the era of the shows for which he’s so nostalgic, the 1950s and much of the 1960s, self-censorship by TV networks meant a program couldn’t depict a married heterosexual couple sharing a bed. And I Love Lucy drew criticism when star Lucille Ball’s real-life pregnancy was written into the series in 1952, although the scripts couldn’t use the word “pregnant,” instead using “expecting” and other euphemisms.
Merrill spoke to USA Today as well, saying, “There are too many TV shows preoccupied with people’s sexual orientation instead of messages that edify our basic moral foundation.” In addition, he said national media coverage of the U.S. National Women’s Team’s World Cup win focused too much on the athletes’ “sexual orientations” instead of the “great accomplishment on their play.”
In the DeKalb County appearance, he also hit several popular Republican talking points. “We’ve got to push back against that socialist agenda that’s being advanced by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, by Sen. Chuck Schumer, and by Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” he said, according to Yellowhammer News. “We have to push back against what they’re doing because they will continue to tear down the basic foundational principles of our country and what has made our country great today.”
He voiced his support for Donald Trump, and he promised that if elected to the Senate, he would help build Trump’s much-touted wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. “We’re going to stop the bleeding of illegal immigrants that are coming in this nation,” he said.
Merrill and Moore, the deeply anti-LGBTQ former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, are among five candidates seeking the 2020 Republican Senate nomination so far. The others are Congressman Bradley Byrne, former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, and state Rep. Arnold Mooney.
In 2017, Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones in a special election to fill the remainder of Jeff Sessions’s Senate term, after Sessions became U.S. attorney general. The race was marked by accusations that Moore had made sexual advances to teenage girls, including some who were under the legal age of consent, when he was in his 30s. Moore, now 72, has denied ever engaging in such activities. Jones now has to run for a full term in 2020.
The Human Rights Campaign released a statement responding to Merrill’s homophobia. “This attack on LGBTQ people and our values only further underscores the fact that the Alabama Senate Republican primary is becoming a race to the bottom and a competition for who is the most virulently anti-LGBTQ,” said HRC Project One America Director Meghan Kissell. “Alabamians deserve a leader who fights for the equality of everyone and every community, not someone who would feel more comfortable in America’s oppressive past.”