An influential Atlanta pastor is catching flak for a controversial tweet about Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.
Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr., founder of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International and senior pastor of Changing a Generation Full Gospel Baptist Church in Atlanta, said he thinks the stakes are too high for Democrats to select an openly-gay candidate to make the final run for the White House.
“Dems I pray U will use wisdom in voting. Being too liberal will not win. I am not Homophobic. But it is definitely not the time 4 POTUS 2b a man with his husband up there by his side. There are those of us who love everybody But we believe in the Biblical Definition of Marriage,” Morton said in the tweet, which was posted on Saturday.
If he wins the 2020 election, Buttigieg would be the first openly-gay president.
Buttigieg married Chasten Glezman, now Buttigieg, in 2018. The couple met in 2015.
Morton, who plans to be at the next Democratic debate at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta on Nov. 20, insists he’s not homophobic, but “people have to be careful that they choose the right person.
“We’ve got to win against Trump,” he said in a telephone interview Thursday. “That man has got to get out.”
And doing that will include appealing to moderate conservatives, who might be against an openly-gay candidate, Morton said.
The Buttigieg campaign could not be reached for comment.
Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, said he was disappointed in Morton’s comments.
“I would really hope that we, as a society, were at the point where we judge people on their ability to do a job and not who they love,” he said. “I think there are some people who will make their decision on who to vote for based on a candidate’s color, a candidate’s religion or a candidate’s sexual orientation.”
Buttigieg, 37, is considered a frontrunner going into Iowa. The Afghan war veteran’s Midwest ties could work to his advantage.
Some political insiders, including South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn have said Buttigieg’s sexuality may be an issue for older African American voters.
"I know of a lot of people my age that feel that way," Clyburn, 79, said in a recent CNN interview. "I'm not going to sit here and tell you otherwise. I think everybody knows that's an issue."
Still, the reaction on social media to Morton’s tweet was swift.
One user tweeted:
“You and (your) homophobic god go chill somewhere and be quiet. We’re all about a loving and liberating God over here. Bigoted theology is not the move...at all.”
Not one to back down, Morton later came back at critics.
“If I am homophobic God is too. All I know is I’m following Him and His Word. I know He loves The World and I do too. But I will not go against God’s Word to please you or no one else”
Morton also had his supporters.
“What ppl fail to recognize is that God loves us all yet He disapproves of certain choices we make. It’s not hard & its not homophobic! You can’t live & do whatever you want & expect God to be okay with it!,” one person tweeted.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.