A former police officer and married gay man said GOP leaders in Alabama denied his request to run for sheriff on the Republican ticket because of his sexuality.
Jason White, 40, spent 22 years in law enforcement and is now a businessman in north Alabama’s Limestone County. He told the News-Courier of Athens that members on the Republican Executive Committee voted Tuesday to reject his bid for sheriff.
Two weeks prior to the vote, White said he took a meeting with roughly 10 of the committee members. They asked him what his two biggest weaknesses as a candidate would be.
“I said the fact I was fired and that I’m gay,” White told the publication. White was fired from the Athens Police Department in 2012 after allegations that he used criminal justice information center to look up information on his ex-wife.
He said the subject of his sexuality became the focal point of the conversation.
“We’re a small Southern town; how are we going to get around that?” one member allegedly told him.
Noah Wahl, chairman of the committee, told HuffPost he would not comment on the story out of “respect” for White. He later directed HuffPost to comments he made to the News-Courier.
“The news media can try to make this about Mr. White’s sexual orientation, but that would be extremely dishonest to the people of Limestone County,” Wahl said in the statement to the publication. “The challenge to Mr. White’s request for candidacy as a Republican was simple, was he a Republican? After careful deliberation the committee could not answer that question with a yes.”
Wahl added that White does not take part in Republican events in the community, and that the committee did not feel comfortable accepting someone who did not vote for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
White said he may run as an independent.
“I’m disappointed, but I’m not deterred,” he told the publication.