The Republican Party of Pinellas County is condemning anti-LGBTQ statements made by a Republican St. Petersburg City Council candidate.
Party Chair Todd Jennings reacted to news that District 7 candidate Chico Cromartie believes sexual orientation is a choice and doesn’t want city resources used for LGBTQ-related services or activities.
“I wholeheartedly condemn Mr. Cromartie’s rhetoric,” Jennings wrote in an email to Florida Politics, responding to a story earlier Tuesday.
“It is not emblematic of my values or the values of the Republican Party. The Republican Party believes in being the party of opportunity, and providing all Americans, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation, with the opportunity to live the American dream and fulfill the pursuit of happiness, no matter what form that may take.
Jennings called on Cromartie to apologize for his statements and “end his fruitless campaign.”
“Mr. Cromartie’s disappointing statements clearly run contrary to these principles. Mr. Cromartie, although a registered Republican, is running in a non-partisan race, and the Pinellas GOP has neither supported nor endorsed his candidacy,” Jennings continued.
Cromartie is not leaving the race, nor will he apologize.
“I represent the people in this community and the American people. I don’t represent a party per se,” Cromartie said. “The party is entitled to their views and I’m fine with that. I disagree with homosexuality and I always will.”
Cromartie lamented the blowback following media reports on his anti-LGBTQ views. He said Americans have the right to disagree and his views should be able to be freely shared.
Cromartie made several references to LGBTQ issues in a series of Facebook posts spanning several weeks.
Among his claims, Cromartie wrote that the city of St. Pete was disproportionately aiding the LGBTQ community, what he describes as “homosexuals” and not a community, at the detriment of the mostly-black District 7 community in South St. Pete.
Asked to expand on what he meant by that, Cromartie said his comments were based on statements from neighbors lamenting similar concerns.
“If you want to classify homosexuality as a community for the sake of this argument, I will. The African American community are the only ones going to City Council about economic deprivation. I don’t see the LGBT community sharing those same problems,” Cromartie said.
Cromartie further explained that his policies would positively impact all St. Pete residents including the LGBTQ community.
“My policies reflect the concerns and needs of everyone. They don’t discriminate against homosexuals,” Cromartie said. “What they do in their bedroom is really none of my concern. I just disagree with it and I always will.”
Cromartie also said he disagrees with scientific studies finding sexual orientation is not a choice.