September 16, 2020 at 8:04 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay man wins primary for Delaware State House seat
Eric Morrison, gay news, Washington Blade
Eric Morrison was criticized by his Democratic opponent after performing in drag at a campaign fundraiser. Morrison won the primary on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of the Morrison campaign)

Gay Democratic activist and human resources project manager Eric Morrison defeated a six-term incumbent by a decisive margin in Delaware’s Democratic primary on Tuesday for a seat in the state House of Representatives.

Morrison beat Rep. Earl Jaques by a margin of 61.1 percent to 38.8 percent in the state’s 27th House District, which is located in New Castle County and includes part of the city of Newark.

A long-time LGBTQ rights advocate, Morrison ran on a progressive platform. He pointed out that Jaques, while voting for a state LGBTQ nondiscrimination bill, voted against a 2013 bill calling for legalizing same-sex marriage that then Gov. Jack Markell (D) quickly signed after the full legislature approved it.

During his campaign, which he launched in 2019, Morrison also noted that Jaques abstained from voting on a bill to ban LGBTQ conversion therapy for minors. The fact Jaques could not support banning a practice condemned as harmful by virtually all medical and mental health professional associations indicated his support for the LGBTQ community was highly questionable, Morrison said.

Jaques came under criticism by Delaware’s top Democratic officials, including Delaware House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach), when he criticized Morrison for performing in drag as part of a campaign fundraiser. Jaques, who later apologized for raising the issue, told a local media outlet Morrison’s drag performance was offensive to churches located in the 27th District.

Morrison, 46, who has a long record of community involvement in civic affairs and local charitable causes, does not appear to have been hurt by the drag revelation.

Morrison is considered the strong favorite to win in the Nov. 3 general election in a heavily Democratic district. He will be running against a Republican and a Libertarian Party candidate. If elected, he will emerge as Delaware’s first openly gay man to serve in the Delaware State Legislature.

“We ran a truly grassroots, people-powered, issues-based campaign,” Morrison said in a statement on Wednesday. “We kept our promises. We spoke the truth. We held ourselves to the highest level of integrity.”

His victory in the primary on Tuesday came on the same day that transgender Democrat Sarah McBride won her primary race for a seat in the Delaware State Senate in a district in Wilmington. McBride, whose district is also heavily Democratic, makes her the strong favorite to win in November to become the nation’s first openly transgender person to become a state senator.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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