A member of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has called being gay a choice and linked mass shootings to America’s acceptance of same-sex marriage.
Trump has tapped Ken Blackwell, a former Ohio secretary of state and the state’s first black Republican candidate for governor, to oversee domestic issues on his presidential transition team, according to a document obtained by Politico.
“I think homosexuality is a lifestyle, it’s a choice, and that lifestyle can be changed,” Blackwell said in a 2006 interview with the Columbus Dispatch. “The reality is, again ... that I think we make choices all the time. And I think you make good choices and bad choices in terms of lifestyle. Our expectation is that one’s genetic makeup might make one more inclined to be an arsonist or might make one more inclined to be a kleptomaniac. Do I think that they can be changed? Yes.”
“What I said is that, in that regard, you can choose, people choose to be who they are, as they choose to break civil law and God’s law ... I think you can choose not to be homosexual,” he said in a 2008 interview. Blackwell, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, sought to become chair of the Republican National Committee in 2009.
In 2014, he linked a mass shooting in California to the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage, saying the shooting was produced by “the crumbling of the moral foundation of the country” and the “attack on natural marriage and the family.”
Trump may personally have a more moderate view on gay rights than most Republicans, but LGBTQ leaders told The New York Times they were alarmed by his victory because of the clear anti-LGBTQ stance of the Republican Party. Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is now running Trump’s transition efforts, has long opposed LGBTQ rights and advocated that public funds be used for gay conversion therapy.