AG Candidate Said She'd Send Child To Abusive Home Over Gay Parents

Erika Harold, a Republican candidate running to become the next attorney general of Illinois, made disparaging remarks in 2000 about same-sex couples adopting.

A Republican candidate running to become Illinois’ next state attorney general is facing questions related to her previous views about adoptions made by gay and lesbian parents.

Erika Harold, a former beauty pageant contestant in the early 2000s who went on to graduate from Harvard Law School, is a Republican candidate for the state’s upcoming attorney general contest. During the GOP campaign for the chance to run for the office this year, she fended off bigoted and misogynistic statements from fellow party members.

But it seems her own comments from the past may be catching up to her.

As part of the Miss Illinois beauty pageant in 2000, Harold was asked questions by a three-person panel in a behind-the-scenes forum. According to at least three sources who were part of that forum, Harold was asked a question about same-sex couples adopting children.

When asked who she’d prefer to adopt a hypothetical foster child — a gay or lesbian couple in a healthy relationship or a heterosexual couple with a history of child abuse — Harold explained to the panel that she’d have advocated the child go to the more dangerous heterosexual couple.

“I remember it because it was so shocking,” one of the pageant officials who recalls the interaction said. “She took some time to answer it. And that drew people in. It stopped the room.”

That same official suggested that Harold’s religious upbringing played a part in her answer.

“It said a lot about her. She spoke about reading the Bible daily and said her beliefs could not subject a child to the gay lifestyle,” the official added.

Harold didn’t win the pageant that year, but she went on to become Miss Illinois in 2002, and she won the Miss America pageant in 2003.

The primary election date for the attorney general’s race is March 20. A spokesman for Harold’s campaign pointed out that the timing of the release of this information is circumspect.

“I have a real problem with this story. Less than two weeks before the election, unnamed sources are going to say this,” the spokesman asked.

He added that Harold’s views have evolved since 2000, explaining “I’m sure she is supportive” regarding her views on gay adoption.

Studies have demonstrated that children raised in same-sex households turn out just as fine as children raised in homes with heterosexual parents. In other words, Harold's fears back in 2000 were unwarranted and based on bigoted misconceptions or religious teachings rather than hard evidence.

Even though the comments were made some 18 years ago, it’s still an issue that deserves to be resolved. Harold herself should explain if her views have changed on the matter, and how she came to change her mind on same-sex adoption, if she indeed has. 

Of greater concern is whether she still harbors errant views on issues similar to this, based on her religious faith rather than hard evidence. In the past, Harold has also advocated a message of abstinence-only sex education during her reign as Miss America, a teaching technique that does little to prevent teen pregnancies, studies have shown.

Rather than condemning the voices of past pageant officials who were disturbed by the statements she had made, Harold needs to explain herself and justify why the people of Illinois should trust her to administer justice in a fair and equitable way, especially to individuals in the LGBT community. 

Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters 

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