(CBS News) – A Tennessee county commissioner launched into a homophobic rant at a local meeting Monday night, claiming that a “queer running for president” is “about as ugly as you can get,” in comments apparently referring to 2020 Democratic candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
“Look what we got running for president in the Democratic party. We can go over here in [Sevier County Sheriff] Hoss’s jail and get better people,” Sevier County Commissioner Warren Hurst said at a meeting about gun restrictions, according to video from WVLT-TV. “We got a queer running for president, if that ain’t about as ugly as you can get,” he added.
Hurst did not name Buttigieg directly — but the mayor is the only openly gay Democrat in the 2020 race for the White House.
One woman stood up to rebuke Hurst for his comments. “Excuse me” she said. “This is not professional. This is [expletive].”
The woman, chair of the Sevier County Democrats Sara Thompson, then left the meeting.
“I was actually incensed. I think that was a very demeaning and nasty thing to even talk about,” she told WVLT-TV on Tuesday.
During the meeting, Hurst also decried what he described as the lack of white male rights in America.
“I’m not prejudiced, a white male in this country has very few rights and they’re getting took more every day,” he said.
In a phone call, Hurst reportedly told WVLT-TV that some of his best friends were African American, but that he stands by his comments because he’s entitled to his opinions.
After his public comments, some members of the crowd applauded. But many in Tennessee criticized his words.
Hurst’s fellow commissioner, Greg Haggard, told WVLT-TV that “Commissioner Hurst’s comments do not speak for the rest of the county commission.” Representatives from nearby cities also spoke out, telling WVLT-TV that Hurst’s comments were “offensive” and “disturbing.”
A representative from the Tennessee Equality Project called for Hurst’s resignation, and encouraged locals to attend the next meeting in protest.
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