A Tennessee politician faces calls to resign after making a homophobic comment in apparent reference to presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.
Sevier County Commissioner Warren Hurst was speaking on Monday about gun owners rights’ when he made the offensive comments during a public meeting.
In footage taken by Knoxville station WLTV, Hurst was opposed to the county commission’s pending vote on becoming a gun sanctuary city. ‘It’s time we wake up people, it’s time, it’s passed time,’ Hurst said.
He then went on to say: ‘We got a queer running for president, if that ain’t about as ugly as you can get.
Tennessee politician Warren Hurst, (right), faces calls to resign after using making a homophobic comment in apparent reference to presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg (left)
Hurst did not mention anyone by name, but Indiana native Buttigieg, who is Mayor of South Ben Indiana, is the first openly gay presidential candidate.
‘I’m not prejudice, but by golly as a white male in this country has very few rights and they’re getting took more every day,’ Hurst then added to even louder shows of support in the room.
The commissioner later stood by his comments when contacted by WVLT and told them that some of his best friends are African-American.
Many of those present laughed and even cheered at one point, apart from one woman who stood up and walked out, saying: ‘Excuse me. This is not professional. This is [expletive].’
On its Twitter account later, Sevier County said it did not stand by Warren Hursts’ comments.
It claimed: ‘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.
‘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.’
Knoxville Representative Gloria Johnson told Knox News that the remarks made by Hurst in Sevierville were ’embarrassing.’
Sevier County Commissioner Warren Hurst was speaking on Monday about gun owners rights’ when he made offensive comments apparently about Democratic 2020 contender Pete Buttigieg
Many of those present laughed and even cheered, apart from one woman who stood up and walked out
One woman present at the meeting stood up and walked out when the remarks were made
‘It could cause serious damage to Sevier County. They get so many tourists,’ she said.
‘Dollywood seems to be the most open and welcoming place, you know, and then to hear something like that, I could see it just killing anybody’s desire to try to come up there.
‘You’ve got a fabulous place that’s opening and welcoming and friendly, and then you’ve got officials like that. It just sends a terrible message.’
Mary Mancini, current Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, called on Warren Hurst to resign. She said on Twitter: ‘The ugliness of bigotry and divisiveness was on full display in Sevier County last night.
‘As a Tennessean, it was painful to watch elected Commissioner and community leader Warren Hurst use his platform to broadcast and sow hate.
Some of those present clapped and laughed when Hurst made the comments, with one shouting out ‘Amen’
On its Twitter account later, Sevier County said it did not stand by Warren Hursts’ comments
‘Comments like these from leaders like Hurst are responsible for the bullying that caused Channing Smith to feel overwhelming shame once his sexuality was revealed to his high school classmates.’
Channing Smith, 16, fatally shot himself at his home in Manchester, Tennessee, after sexually explicit messages he exchanged with another boy were shared on Instagram, his family claim.
Channing’s brother Joshua, 38, believes he had a disagreement during a phone conversation with a girl hours before he died, and in retaliation she shared the messages online outing him as gay.
Channing, who was a junior at Coffee County Central High School, had confided in a few people that he was gay or bisexual, according to his brother.
After exchanging sexually explicit messages with another male teenager, a girl known to him posted screenshots online.
Buttigieg, the 2020 presidential hopeful and veteran, celebrated his first wedding anniversary with his husband Chasten earlier this year and has suggested they could start a family in the White House
Mary Mancini, current Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, called on Hurst to resign
Mancini made reference to Channing Smith, 16, who fatally shot himself at his home in Manchester, Tennessee,after sexually explicit messages he exchanged with another boy were shared on and Instagram
A number of social media users called on Hurst to resign and called for people to reconsider visiting the area, which is a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Sevier County also includes Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, which host dozens of tourist attractions, including Dollywood. Those sites were included in many social media posts in reference to the story.
One named KenziMcCarter wrote: ‘That “queer” running for president is a Christian veteran who spent 7 months in Afghanistan, initiated rebuilding of 1,000 homes in his first mayoral term, and was re-elected with 80% of the vote. Sevier Co—we are better than this hate.’
Another user named Travis Akers claimed: ‘Warren Hurst, the County Commissioner of Sevier County, Tennessee, calls Pete Buttigieg a “queer” and then later says “white man” has few rights. Warren Hurst is cancelled.’
Another named Derek Helling wrote: ‘If you live in @SevierCounty Tennessee please contact your county officials to let them know this is unacceptable and Warren Hurst is unfit to serve, or you know, be a horrible person. Those are pretty much the only options.’
A number of social media users called on Hurst to resign and called for people to reconsider visiting the area, which is a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Kelley Garndener also claimed: ‘He reflects you when he says them in your office. He is a reflection of Sevier County. His beliefs are offensive and his grammar is worse.’
Buttigieg, the first openly gay man to become a major contender for his party’s nomination, said during the summer that it was ‘statistically almost certain’ that at least one of the 44 men who have held the office was gay.
The 2020 hopeful and veteran celebrated his first wedding anniversary with his husband Chasten earlier this year and has suggested they could start a family in the White House.
If elected he would be the first openly gay President, the youngest ever elected at 38 and the first mayor to ascend straight to the White House – giving his campaign historic appeal.
However, it has also invited concern over whether he is experienced enough for the White House, and whether Americans are ready to elect a gay head of state.
Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has boosted his profile enormously since joining the 2020 race.
His poll numbers surged in the early months of this year, turning him from an outsider into a plausible contender for the nomination.
Buttigieg would be the youngest person to become president, turning 39 the day before the next inauguration, on January 20, 2021. Born in 1982, he would also be the first millennial president.