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Alabama official: LGBTQ 'not born that way' comments are being taken out of context

Alabama official: LGBTQ 'not born that way' comments are being taken out of context
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An Alabama county commissioner running for mayor of Birmingham is arguing that comments she made that members of the LGBTQ community are “not born that way” are being taken out of context by her political opponents. 

Lashunda Scales (D), who serves as the commissioner for Jefferson County, pushed back on an edited version of remarks she made Wednesday night on her “She Works” podcast

In the video, Scales responded to pushback over comments she raised in 2012 as a member of the Birmingham City Council over a photo hanging at the city’s Civil Rights Institute that showed lesbian couples expressing affection toward each other.

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Scales told AL.com in an interview Thursday that at the time she believed the photo was “too mature for children” and that it was inappropriate to compare civil rights for Black people to gay rights. 

In Wednesday’s podcast, Scales explained, “I believe that there’s a choice in terms of who you love. However, as a Black person, I didn’t have that choice.” 

The commissioner in the podcast added that, “It’s OK to differ in what we believe.” 

“You may believe you were born that way, I may believe you weren’t born that way,” Scales said. “But guess what? You know what settles the score? What does the law say?”

Scales, who noted that she has gay and lesbian family members, went on to say that she would be “a mayor for everyone” and “fight to make sure everyone is treated with respect” and “humanity.”

In the AL.com interview, however, Scales said that comments from the podcast were edited together in a shortened, 10-second video to make her appear as though she was anti-gay, which she said was not the case. 

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“This is politics,” Scales told AL.com. “I couldn’t have said it more clearly. I love everyone. I want to be the mayor for everyone. If afforded the opportunity, I would be the mayor of all the people. I believe everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.”

“Just because that is my belief, it doesn’t matter,” she continued. “What matters is you have an opinion, I have an opinion, but the law is the acid test. I still have to enforce the law. I don’t believe in discrimination of any kind.”

Scales added that while she may have her own opinion, “I believe in inclusivity, and not exclusivity.”

“Birmingham has real issues and the only way we are going to be able to properly address those issues is to be united,” she added. 

The Hill has reached out to Scales for further comment. 

Scales is set to face off against a number of other candidates running for the Birmingham mayoral seat, including current Mayor Randall Woodfin (D), who is running for reelection. 

The election is scheduled for August, with an October runoff if needed.