Delaware Public Media

LGBTQ issues cause friction in state House race

Oct 24, 2019

A Democratic state representative is apologizing for comments he made about his primary opponent.


State Rep. Earl Jaques (D-Newark) criticized his progressive challenger, Eric Morrison, for holding a fundraiser earlier this month that featured a drag show.

Jaques told the News Journal area churches wouldn’t endorse that and he is not sure Morrison would represent the church congregants.

Morrison, who is openly gay, says Jaques is attacking his sexual orientation. Morrison has been a female impersonator for more than 20 years, although he didn’t perform at the fundraiser.

Morrison said he doesn’t want this to become a central issue in this election. But he also thinks it’s important for the legislature to reflect its constituents.

“I would be the first openly LGBT person to serve in the Delaware House of Representatives and I do think our community deserves a voice at the table,” he said.

Jaques issued a statement calling his words insensitive, hurtful and wrong. He said it's his job to represent all his constituents regardless of gender, race, creed, orientation or identity.

Morrison, who is openly gay, said he appreciates Jaques’ apology, but says there’s more for voters to consider.

“At the same time, that does not erase his history of a lack of support for LGBTQ equality for Delawareans,” he said.

Morrison points to Jaques’ vote against same-sex marriage in 2013 and abstaining from a 2018 House vote to ban conversion therapy as proof of his lack of support for LGBTQ people.

Jaques did not reply to a request for comment.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach), Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) and Majority Whip Larry Mitchell (D-Elsmere) issued a joint statement affirming their support for LGBTQ protections. It said they disagreed with Jaques' remarks, but they appreciated his apology.