New York Democratic Candidate Thinks Same-Sex Couples Should Be Barred From Public School Textbooks

From the Wall of Separation blog:

Image by Getty Images

Image by Getty Images

A Democrat running for state office in New York said if elected, he’ll work to ensure that photos of same-sex couples do not appear in public school textbooks.

S.J. Jung is challenging incumbent state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Queens) for her seat. Stavisky, who defeated Jung back in 2014, voted to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. It seems that move didn’t sit well with Jung, who is hoping to rally anti-gay voters to his cause.

While speaking to a group of mainly Korean churches in March, Jung criticized some bills that fundamentalist Christians opposed and sought prayers “so I can get elected to the New York state Senate to stop this from happening.”

Jung also said: “I pray [for] Jesus Christ’s love to spread and [that] his message speak[s] through this election and your prayer of faith to make me become a warrior clad in armor.”

When word got out that Jung opposed depictions of gay couples in textbooks, he was asked to clarify his comments. In a statement to the New York Daily News, he said last week that he opposes marriage equality and believes “in the Bible’s teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Jung added that he wants to ban same-sex couples from textbooks in response to “a general trend in the nation.”

He even claimed Christians are being persecuted for opposing marriage equality, which has been the law of the land since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

“As a nation we must protect the rights and freedoms of all, regardless of their views on this matter,” he said.

Jung is certainly entitled to his beliefs, but running on a platform that goes against settled law seems like an odd choice. He can oppose marriage equality all he wants, but it’s here to stay.

As for textbooks, it’s the role of government to ensure that children receive a sound education in public schools. It is not for government to go on censorship crusades or single out certain groups for negative treatment. Public schools in particular are supposed to be welcoming to all. How would a child who has two moms or two dads feel if told that it’s wrong for same-sex couples to appear in his or her books?

Jung seems to want to hold office so that he can use his position of power to spread his own narrow view of Christianity. But public policy is for everyone, and Jung needs to realize that laws should be based on secular ideas rather than religious dogma.

It’s also worth noting that Jung’s appearance in front of church groups could jeopardize the tax status of those organizations. Houses of worship and other 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations are forbidden from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. While there is no evidence that any church Jung spoke to formally endorsed him, inviting one candidate to shill for votes is something the Internal Revenue Service frowns upon. These groups would be wise to invite Stavisky to speak, too, so they avoid the appearance of favoritism. Otherwise, they may hear from the IRS.

The primary in this district is Sept. 13, meaning Jung only has a couple weeks to brush up on the U.S. Constitution. He may want to take a crash course.

P.S.: Americans United wants to see the IRS strictly enforce the rules that are meant to keep churches out of partisan politics. If you agree that the IRS must aggressively enforce these rules, please sign our petition.