Alabama Senator Doug Jones talks LGBT rights and his gay son’s influence
US Senator Doug Jones has said that having a gay son has influenced his views, as he restated his commitment to LGBT rights in a conversation with Senate staffers.
In December 2017, Jones became Alabama’s first Democrat senator in 25 years in a surprise victory against the Republican candidate Roy Moore.
Moore, whose campaign was dogged by accusations of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault against minors, has consistently voiced homophobic views. In a 2005 interview he said that “homosexual conduct should be illegal” and in 2016, as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, he ordered probate judges to defy court rulings and deny marriage licences to same-sex couples.
Jones, however, wanted to make it clear he was pro-LGBT during his campaign for the conservative state.
“Being from Alabama, we really made a point of stepping out there this past year on equality issues,” the senator said in the discussion with Gays, Lesbians & Allies Senate Staff, or GLASS, in comments reported by the Washington Blade. “It was easy to do for me,” Jones added.
“I also knew that ultimately we were going to be running against someone in Alabama who was as far from equality as you could possibly get,” the senator said. “I wanted to make that front and centre in the primary campaign and for that to be an issue in the general election.
“We made clear where the Doug Jones campaign was on all issues involving equality.”
Jones’s openly gay son, Carson Jones, made headlines and won praise for an Instagram post showing his father being sworn into the Senate in January. In the photo, the Colorado State University student throws a side-eye at Vice President Mike Pence, who is known for his anti-LGBT stance. “#NoCaptionNeeded,” the senator’s son wrote underneath.
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“We’ve all seen it,” Jones told GLASS staffers regarding the infamous post. He said that his son’s orientation had “absolutely” affected him. “At the end of the day, a lot of this is so personal.”
“Everything affects you, but obviously a child affects you more than anything else. I’m happy to do that, I’m happy to be there to defend him…”
Speaking after the GLASS event to Blade about his son’s coming out, Jones said: “We expressed unconditional love and wanted to make sure he knew that and that was the case at that point, and it was just pretty much that simple.”
Jones spoke about key campaign concerns for LGBT rights, stating that he wants to work to improve data collection on hate crimes against LGBT people. While the Justice Department is allowed to collect such data under the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the senator said that many state and local governments are reluctant to do so out of “fear of social backlash, political backlash.”