E.W. Jackson, the controversial bishop running on the GOP ticket to be Virginia's lieutenant governor, is causing turmoil and second-guessing even amongst his fellow Republicans. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) announced this week that he would not be endorsing Jackson because of his views on gays and lesbians.
Jackson has referred to gays and lesbians as "very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally" and said their behavior "poisons culture." He has also said Planned Parenthood is worse than the Ku Klux Klan, and argued that President Barack Obama has "Muslim sensibilities."
"His views with respect to the gay and lesbian community and homosexuality in general are not my own. I'm going to leave it at that," Rigell said Monday in an interview with the Virginian-Pilot. "What he said and, indeed, how he said it. All of it."
Rigell told the Washington Post in a statement, however, that he will still vote for Jackson in November, citing the fact that he backs the Republican nominees for governor and attorney general.
"While my support for Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Obenshain includes my full personal endorsement, my support for E.W. Jackson is limited to my vote," Rigell said.
Rigell does not support marriage equality, and in 2011, he co-sponsored legislation urging President Barack Obama to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages. He does, however, support civil unions for same-sex couples.
Even Cuccinelli and Obenshain have distanced themselves from Jackson, with Cuccinelli saying that he was "not going to defend my running mates’ statements at every turn."
"The Republicans I'm talking to are saying, 'what the hell are they doing in Virginia?'" said Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, after Jackson was nominated. "Is this, '101 ways to lose an election'? You're coming out of the gate with comments everyone has to explain."