Pro-LGBTQ group labels Erhabor Ighodaro ‘homophobic’ after he defends ‘God’-based definition of marriage

Erhabor Ighodaro
One of Ighodaro's SD 35 opponents, Shevrin Jones, is openly gay.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund is blasting Senate District 35 Democratic candidate Erhabor Ighodaro as “homophobic” after Ighodaro defended a “God”-based definition of marriage at a recent campaign event.

Families First is my theme for my campaign,” Ighodaro said.

“It’s not just rhetoric. We need to fight for our families. You see what’s happening in Tallahassee. Our families are under assault. And I’m a Democrat. But I’m a Democrat that still has sense. You know, we’re not conceding the Evangelicals and the Republicans with the idea of promoting faith and family. We still have people who have values in the Democratic Party. And we have values — we’re going to fight for our families.”

Ighodaro closed by saying, “There is an image that God says a marriage should look like, that a family should look like. And that’s what we’re going to fight for.”

Ighodaro did not elaborate on specific policy proposals, nor explain how “families are under assault.” Florida Politics has reached out to the Ighodaro campaign for comment.

But the remarks do clearly run counter to standard Democratic policy of openly embracing the 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. That could be an issue for the candidate going forward in the Democratic primary.

Ighodaro is competing with four other Democrats for the SD 35 nomination in August. One of those candidates is current Rep. Shevrin Jones, who is openly gay.

LGBTQ Victory Fund has endorsed Jones in the contest. After Ighodaro’s comments, the group has leaped to Jones’ defense. However, it’s worth noting that Ighodaro neither mentioned Jones nor laid out a specific plan to roll back LGBTQ protections.

“What we are seeing from Erhabor Ighodaro is not simply a homophobic record or remark, but an entire campaign aimed at inspiring hatred toward his opponent because of his sexual orientation,” said former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, the President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund.

“Frankly, it is one of the most homophobic campaigns we’ve seen from a Democratic candidate this year — and with so many issues facing Florida and District 35 — it is insulting to voters that Ighodaro makes bigotry his focus.”

The group’s statement argues Ighodaro’s “Families First” theme is “a long-time dog whistle used by anti-LGBTQ hate groups to imply LGBTQ families are inherently different from heterosexual-led families.”

Parker elaborated further in her efforts to frame Ighodaro’s comments as a direct attack on Jones.

“It is especially egregious that Ighodaro would attack Shevrin’s family or to try and label him as anti-family,” Parker continued.

“Shevrin is incredibly close with his father, who is a widely admired pastor, as well as his mother and brothers. It was in grieving the passing of one of his brothers that Shevrin decided to publicly come out while a state representative — recognizing that life is fragile and it was important to live his truth. Shevrin is running openly and honestly and will remain focused on a message of inclusion and in delivering results for his constituents. The contrast with Ighodaro’s hateful and selfish campaign could not be starker.”

Again, Jones’ name was not mentioned by Ighodaro.

Florida Politics will update the piece should the Ighodaro campaign respond to comment regarding the full intent of his remarks. But regardless of Ighodaro’s intent, the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s scathing — if conjectural — statement is a sign that this issue will likely come up again as the campaign moves forward.

Former Sen. Daphne Campbell, former firefighter Wilbur Harbin and former Rep. Cynthia Stafford are also competing in the Democratic primary for SD 35.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


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