A congressional candidate and former felon who was recently pardoned by President Donald Trump said she stands by a series of anti-LGBTQ tweets that have earned her widespread criticism.
Angela Stanton-King, who announced Friday that she is running as a Republican to unseat iconic civil rights leader and Georgia Democratic congressman, Rep. John Lewis, compared gay and transgender people to pedophiles in a series of posts published over the weekend.
“Gay means Men having sex with men. If you wouldn’t want your 12 yr old daughter advertising that she enjoys sex with men/boys why your 12 yr old son?,” Stanton-King wrote in one tweet, alongside a picture of Zaya, former NBA star Dwyane Wade’s transgender daughter. “This is confusion, pedophilia and sexual exploitation wrapped up in acceptance.”
In another tweet, she remarked that people appear to be more accepting of transgender people than ex-convicts.
“America can accept a transsexual that changed their whole identity/sex but can’t accept a Felon who changed their whole lifestyle,” she wrote Saturday.
Stanton-King, who appeared on the BET Network documentary series “From the Bottom Up” and who founded a criminal justice organization, served six months in prison in 2007 after she was convicted on federal conspiracy charges for her role in a stolen car ring. She and 10 others were pardoned by Trump in February.
“I’m very concerned about the whole LGBTQ movement and the way it sexualizes children,” Stanton-King told NBC News on Tuesday. “The LGBTQ community refers to people’s sexual preferences — lesbians like women, gay people like men — and children shouldn’t be walking advertisements for sexuality when they are not old enough to make their own decisions.”
In her tweets and during her interview, Stanton-King appeared to conflate sexual orientation and gender identity, which are two distinct things (Zaya Wade, for example, is transgender, but neither she nor her famous parents have ever commented on her sexual orientation by labeling her "gay" or a "lesbian").
Stanton-King added that she’s “not against LGBTQ rights like same-sex marriage,” because she has a 19-year-old son who identifies as gay and a gay aunt who raised her. She believes, however, that there is a need for legislation that ensures “children are not tied to the LGBTQ community.”
Since she threw her hat in the political ring Friday, Stanton-King — who describes herself on Twitter as “Pro GOD, Pro LIFE, Pro WOMAN, Pro AMERICA, Pro TRUMP and PRO COMMON SENSE” — has posted at least five tweets explicitly disparaging LGBTQ people, most of them comparing gay and trans people to pedophiles. She said she deleted some of the tweets after learning others found them “offensive,” but that she felt like they were “misinterpreted.”
While Stanton-King's controversial tweets did garner some support, they sparked widespread criticism, including from at least one local political figure.
“Hate like this will never be supported in our communities. This is a true reflection of the delusional rhetoric fueled by political warfare & is on the opposite spectrum of equality & humanity,” Atlanta City Council member Antonio Brown wrote. “But, we must meet this conscious injustice with love & unconditional understanding.”
Lewis — whom Stanton-King will be challenging in November (she is currently does not have a primary challenger) — has served in Congress since 1987 and has been a longtime supporter of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights. He has been a proponent of pro-LGBTQ legislation, including the Equality Act, federal legislation that would modify existing civil rights legislation to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people, and legislation that would permit gay and transgender people to openly serve in the military.
“I fought too long and too hard to end discrimination based on race and color, to not stand up against discrimination against our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters,” Lewis states on his website. “Every human being walking this Earth, whether gay, lesbian, straight, or transgender, is entitled to the same rights.”
Last year, the 80-year-old lawmaker revealed he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer, but he said his diagnosis would not stop him from running for re-election. Stanton-King, however, said it’s “time for him to pass the torch.”
Lewis did not respond to a request for comment.