LGBT campaigners have called for a hate crime investigation after posters for a Congressional candidate were defaced with the phrases “gay lover” and “baby killer.”
Democratic candidate Perry Gershon, who is attempting to unseat Republican Lee Zeldin in New York’s first Congressional district, had his campaign materials targeted with just days to go until the November 6 midterms.
Vandals used spray paint and stencils to write the messages on the electoral posters. “More than two dozen” signs for Gershon across Suffolk County, Long Island, were targeted in this manner, David Kilmick of New York’s LGBT Network told News 12 on Tuesday (October 30).
Kilmick called for a hate crime investigation over the vandalism.
He told the Riverhead Local: “We are not even 72 hours removed from the deadliest anti-Semitic attacks in American history on the Jewish community and it is unconscionable that these signs displaying hate toward the LGBT community would appear throughout Suffolk County.”
In a statement to Patch, Gershon said: “Hate mongering has no place in America, especially in political campaigns. The conversation with voters should be about ideas for improving their lives.
“I am proud to stand with women in fighting for the right to let them choose what is best for their own bodies, and I am proud to stand with the LGBTQ community in fighting for equality.
“This is a nonpartisan, human issue. Toning down incivility is the only constructive path forward for Long Island and the country. I encourage Lee Zeldin to join me in condemning hate-based violence, intolerance, and related vandalism, wherever it occurs, and whomever perpetrates it.”
A spokesperson for Zeldin told Patch: “No idea who did this, but they should stop immediately.
“We have also been dealing for several weeks with Zeldin for Congress signs being defaced and stolen from private property.”
The spokesperson added: “There is absolutely no place for any of this now or in the future. Political violence and hate have no place in our political discourse.
“Whether it is defacing political signs, or assaulting people with opinions different than your own, scores need to be settled at the ballot box, not with hate and violence.
“Whoever is responsible needs to be held accountable.”
In Congress, Zeldin co-sponsored the First Amendment Defense Act, a Republican bill that would permit discrimination on the basis of a belief that “marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”
The broadly-formulated bill, put forward in 2015 after the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of equal marriage, would effectively legalise all discrimination against same-sex couples in all sectors—from employment to retail to healthcare.
President Donald Trump has already pledged to sign the bill if it ever comes to his desk.