UPDATE: Libertarian Candidate Ends Campaign following Homophobic Facebook Comments

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Update:

BENTON COUNTY, Ark. – Justin Jones has decided to end his candidacy for the Arkansas House.

Jones texted KARK reporter Jessi Turnure Tuesday evening:

“Effective immediately I will be suspending my campaign for State Representative of District 87.”

He has also shut down his campaign website.

Update:

BENTON COUNTY, Ark. – The Benton County Libertarian Party called on Justin Jones Tuesday morning to “immediately abandon” his campaign for state representative following his homophobic Facebook comments.

The chair, Michael J. Kalagias, wrote in a statement: 

“Mr. Jones was until very recently a Republican supporter and candidate. He came to the Libertarian Party, as have many others, because of his dissatisfaction with their failed policies and actions. The bigotry he brought with him, however, is certainly not welcome and will not be tolerated by the Benton County Libertarian Party, the Libertarian Party of Arkansas, or the national Libertarian Party; nor should it be tolerated by any decent person of any political party. The Benton County Libertarian Party urges Mr. Jones to immediately abandon his campaign for office, and to refrain from returning to the political arena until such time as he has gained enough knowledge, wisdom, and maturity to do so responsibly.” 

However, Jones doesn’t plan on going anywhere and made that clear to Kalagias.

Jones posted the following statement on his website

“In response to the backlash caused by the media, it has been brought to my attention that I should suspend my campaign. After a phone call with the Chair of the Benton County Libertarian Party, Michael J. Kalagias, I informed him, that I will continue my candidacy for State Representative. My candidacy is about the people of Elm Springs, Siloam Springs, Springdale, and Tontitown. My campaign will continue to fight on the behalf of District 87. I would like to thank everyone for their support in my growing campaign.”

Original story:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A Libertarian running for state representative in northwest Arkansas called gay people “disgusting” in a Facebook comment from his personal account. 

The woman who made the post wanted his constituents to be informed ahead of November.

“I hope that the people who could be potentially voting for him will see this and be able to re-evaluate their vote,” said Myah Baeza.

The Hawaii resident took to Facebook March 30 to support her friend who posted, “My blood is too gay to save a life.” Baeza shared his post, writing, “This is such an antiquated rule and it disgusts me. Women can have AIDS, too, and they search for it anyways?”

“Knowing that my gay friends can’t give blood, that has always not sat well with me,” Baeza told KARK during an interview Monday. 

Baeza’s political ideals fall somewhere between a Republican and Libertarian. A lot of her friends on Facebook are political acquaintances.

“I just like to have diverse, transitive thought throughout my social media,” she said. 

However, Baeza said one friend from Arkansas took it too far.

“He very deliberately said, ‘F–s are disgusting,'” she said. “Excuse my language, but that was his direct comment.”

The commenter, Justin Jones, is running for state representative for District 87 in northwest Arkansas on the Libertarian ticket.

“When you’re running for public office, no matter if you disagree with your constituents, you’re still supposed to be representing them,” Baeza said. “And how are you going to represent someone who you think is ‘disgusting?'” 

Jones responded to Baeza’s post, “The likelihood of a f– catching HIV is 1000% more likely then any straight person.”

“Why in God’s name would you say that?,” Baeza wrote back.

“Because it’s true,” Jones wrote.

“You think it’s okay to call gay people ‘f–s.’ You’re disgusting,” Baeza wrote.

“F–s are disgusting,” Jones responded. 

He continued, “If you don’t think HIV is created by homosexuality then you need education. That’s the entirety of my post, for someone who wants free speech, you don’t act like it. I shouldn’t have said ‘f–s’ should have said homosexuals. But I won’t apologize of the moral of my comment, homosexuality is wrong, and shouldn’t be publicly endorsed.” 

“It just really upset me that there’s still people out there who feel like they can publicly say these kinds of things without ridicule,” Baeza said.

Jones issued the following signed statement to KARK and posted it on the home page of his website:

“I recently made a comment that was meant to be satire, but had FACTUAL meaning. In the new day of Social Media, we face backlash for every comment we make, which is putting ‘Free Speech’ at a price. The Aids Epidemic is a VERY big part of the LGBTQ Community. To not recognize that would be a ‘Lie’ to yourself and the LGBTQ Community. In this New Day of politics, we are recognizing the benefits of throwing away the old establishment, and how that didn’t work. Today, we are bringing back ‘FREEDOM OF SPEECH,’ and protecting our 2nd amendment rights. That might be too much for some people, but that’s why we’re getting them out of Public Office. Let’s get back to ‘Making Arkansas Great Again.’ Vote Justin Jones for State Representative, District 87.”

“I mean, really all he’s doing is just trying to pull the political move and apologize to try to save his sinking ship, but it’s clear how he feels about gay people,” Baeza said. 

The avid Facebook user has since unfriended and blocked Jones and hopes his constituents do the same at the polls.

“If you have any contempt or hatred in your heart for the people who you might be representing then you probably shouldn’t run for public office,” Baeza said. 

The chairman of the Libertarian Party of Arkansas, Dr. Michael Pakko, said in a statement:

“The tone of Mr. Jones’ comments are completely antithetical to the inclusive, tolerant position of the Libertarian Party. We believe that the rights of the individual are paramount – that each person has the right to make decisions for themselves about what activities to pursue, what foods to eat, what beverages to drink, and who to love. On the rights of LGBT individuals, in particular, the Libertarian Party has always been a champion of equal rights. In fact,  the Libertarian Party has supported marriage equality since its founding in 1971. Mr. Jones is within his rights to associate with gay individuals or not, and to have opinions of his own about morality, but the denigrating, insulting comments that have been attributed to him have no place in the political messaging of the Libertarian Party, and we disassociate ourselves from such offensive remarks.”

“The Libertarian Party platform, 1.4 Personal Relationships, states: Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.”

Jones is running against incumbent Rep. Robin Lundstrum, a Republican, and Kelly Scott Unger, a Democrat.  

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