Sen. Doug Jones talks LGBT+ issues, says son influenced views

Doug Jones. CNN photo.

Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) reaffirmed his support for LGBT+ rights during a conversation with Senate staffers in which he acknowledged that having a gay son has influenced his views.

Jones said he co-sponsors the Equality Act, legislation introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) in the U.S. Senate that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights laws. The website for the Library of Congress indicates Jones became the 46th co-sponsor for the bill.

One way in which Jones said he seeks to advance LGBT+ rights is through data collection on hate crimes. Although the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act allows the Justice Department to collect data on anti-LGBT+ hate crimes, Jones said many state and local governments still resist the practice out of “fear of social backlash, political backlash.”

“It’s an issue that I think needs to be addressed, and hopefully it’s being addressed more, I think, as issues of equality are becoming more acceptable to the South,” Jones said.

Key to the senator’s views on LGBT+ rights were his son, Carson Jones, a gay student at Colorado State University.

Jones said witnessing the first same-sex marriages in Alabama was “just phenomenal” and after seeing “the love, the happiness” wondered “what in the hell were people thinking” who opposed same-sex unions.

Asked by the Blade after the event about the experience of his son coming out to him, Jones said the experience was powerful.

“That’s a little bit harder to answer,” Jones said. “Only that he knew and we expressed unconditional love and wanted to make sure he knew that and that was the case at that point, and it was just pretty much that simple.”

Copyright The Gayly. April 13, 2018. 12:10 p.m. CST.