State Legislature

Waller denounces candidate's anti-gay comments

House District 15 hopeful Klingenschmitt draws ire of fellow Republicans

By Vic Vela
Posted

Former House Minority Leader Mark Waller on Aug. 27 blasted the fellow Republican who is seeking to succeed him over his recent "horribly inappropriate" anti-gay comments.

Waller, who is not seeking re-election for his Colorado Springs-based House District 15 seat, also told Colorado Community Media that Gordon Klingenschmitt's candidacy "certainly does have an impact" on other races on the fall ballot.

When reached for comment, Klingenschmitt said he takes no issue with Waller's comments and apologized for what led to Waller's admonishment.

Klingenschmitt, who is a chaplain, made national headlines earlier in the week for comments he made in a mass-distributed email. Klingenschmitt suggested that Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who is gay, wants to kill Christians, much like the Islamic extremist group who was responsible for beheading a U.S. journalist earlier in August.

"Democrats like Polis want to bankrupt Christians who refuse to worship and endorse his sodomy," he wrote. "Next he'll join ISIS in beheading Christians, but not just in Syria, right here in America."

Waller said his "11-year-old son can identify that as a hateful speech."

"I think it was horribly inappropriate to say," Waller said. "It doesn't matter if he's a person running for state representative or a person on the street. I think it's terrible to say.

"Obviously, he does not speak for me or the Republican Party."

Waller hasn't endorsed Klingenschmitt, but he wouldn't go as far as saying that he should drop out of the race - as Klingenschmitt's opponent, Democrat Lois Fornander has.

"If you're not voting for him, you're voting for the Democrat and quite honestly legislative majorities matter," Waller said. "But that puts (House District 15 voters) in a rock and a hard place in terms of who to vote for."

House District 15 is heavily Republican and Klingenschmitt is still favored to win, in spite of his recent comments.

Klingenschmitt apologized earlier in the week and did so again during a phone interview. He said he was trying to point out the "bad policies of Jared Polis," but that he realizes his comments were offensive.

Klingenschmitt has taken issue with Polis' backing of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He said the legislation should have religious exceptions.

"I apologize for the hyperbole and I wrote that statement when I was tired between 1 and 2 in the morning, but I do not apologize for defending Christians for persecution."

When asked if it dawned on him that he was using language that has historically been used to persecute gays while trying to defend Christians from "persecution," Klingenschmitt said, "I don't accept the premise of the question."

Klingenschmitt said he hopes voters will see past his comments.

"I'm a first-time candidate and I am new at this," he said. "I made a mistake and I won't always say the right thing, but I do have a backbone and I will always stand on conviction."

Waller wasn't the only Republican to denounce Klingenschmitt's comments. Owen Loftus, a spokesman for the Colorado Republican Party, said that Klingenschmitt's "comments in no way reflect the views of the party."

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, who is gay, said Klingenschmitt's comments were "homophobic, extreme and slanderous."