A Tennessee commissioner is under fire for a rambling speech in which he complained about "a queer running for president."
According to WVLT, Commissioner Warren Hurst's comments occurred on October 21 during a discussion on gun control for Sevier County, Tennessee. His statements were meandering and discursive during the discussion, before he eventually said "we got a queer running for president, if that ain't about as ugly as you can get." In video of the event, many can be heard laughing.
"Look what we got running for president in the Democratic party," he continued. "We can go over here to [Sevier County Sheriff] Hoss's jail and get better people out of there than those running for democratic to be President of the United States."
A citizen objected to his comments at that point, telling him, "this is bullshit," and then walking out.
Hurst continued: "I'm not prejudiced but by golly, a white male in this country has very few rights and they're getting took more every day."
He added, "your kids and your grandkids is going to pay for what we let happen." It was unclear what he was referring to in regards to children.
Reached for comment by phone by WVLT, Hurst continued his statement, telling reporters that he stands by his comments and that some of his best friends were African-American.
Perrin Anderson, Assistant to the Sevier County Mayor, denounced Hurst's remarks. "The statements made by Commissioner Hurst at the Sevier County Commission meeting of October 21, 2019, do not reflect the opinion or position of Sevier County administration," Anderson said in a statement. "Sevier County is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or status in any other group protected by law."
The Human Rights Campaign also responded. "Sevier County Commissioner Warren Hurst is using his position of power to publicly spew bigotry against LGBTQ people - people who are very likely his own constituents," said Nick Morrow of HRC. "A group of people having rights doesn't take away those of another. But with LGBTQ people running for office at every level of government and more and more people voting for candidates who support equality, he should be more worried about losing his seat than losing his rights."