SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg responded to homophobic comments made by Sevier County commissioner Warren Hurst at a Monday meeting.
“Well, he was right about one thing – he’s right that there’s a gay man running for President,” Buttigieg said in an interview Thursday. “He doesn’t seem to be right about much else.”
This comes after a controversial county commission meeting on Monday, Oct. 21 at which Hurst, who represents Sevier County’s 1st District, said, in part: “Look what we’ve got running for president, in the Democratic party… It’s time, folks, that we wake up. It’s been time…. we’ve got a queer running for president in this country.”
Monday night’s open county commission meeting agenda lists a resolution declaring support for the Second Amendment.
During the discussion of this agenda item, Hurst made the aforementioned comments and also spelled doom and gloom “if we keep being run by these liberals.” He also said he believes his rights as a white male are being taken, among other declarations regarding citizen rights in the United States.
His comments were met with some laughter, calls of “Amen!” applause and the waving of American flags.
Others shook their heads or sat still.
Backlash on social media among residents, county leaders and within the tourism community in the county was swift. Sevier County government leaders also condemned Hurst’s comments, saying the comments do not reflect Sevier County’s welcoming area.
Sevier County is home to several tourist attractions, including those in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville such as Dollywood, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Anakeesta Theme Park, dinner shows, adventure tours and more.
Asked if he had run into anti-gay discrimination before while on the campaign trail, Buttigieg replied with a message about understanding.
“Sure, it doesn’t speak for most people. I think the most important thing is to approach with compassion,” Buttigieg said.