Yup.
Yup. Carolyn Campbell

So we're clear, it is not surprising that Dennis Richardson—Oregon's secretary of state, first in line for the governor's office if Kate Brown steps down, and the candidate of choice for Willamette Week and the Oregonian—doesn't approve of LGBT citizens.

Yes, it is certainly jarring that, in 2017 in Oregon, a statewide elected official holds the view that being gay is "not moral," as Richardson reluctantly admitted he does to OPB this week.

That interview—in which Richardson went out of his way to say he accepts all people, before acknowledging that, yep, being gay is immoral in his book—is being seized on by opponents.

Jeanne Atkins, the chair of the Oregon Democratic Party and the last secretary of state, lashed out in a statement yesterday, saying: "That the highest ranking Republican official in Oregon would call these populations ‘immoral’ is upsetting and harmful."

Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) has begun an online petition decrying Richardson that's got roughly 200 signatures so far, according to spokesperson Diane Goodwin.

"What our leaders say matters," Goodwin tells the Mercury. "It sends a horrible message to LGBTQ communities across the state, particularly youth who still face horrible rates of homelessness, bullying and abuse. As far as we’re concerned, this demonstrates once and for all he is unqualified to hold a state office."

But nothing about what Richardson said is remotely surprising. For years, he's come under fire for his views around LGBTQ people.

In 2007, according to the Oregonian, "he compared homosexuality to smoking and drinking, saying all are based on someone’s behavior." As BRO noted last year, in a last-minute effort to convince people not to vote for Richardson, as recently as 2004 he's pushed articles that make such arguments as:

At the very least, in order to be honored with marriage, homosexuals should show that they intend to live faithfully committed to each other. But social science has yet to produce evidence that there is such a thing as an exclusively faithful gay couple.

In his successful run against Brad Avakian last year, Richardson argued his social conservatism has no bearing on the job he was applying for. Secretary of state is a position concerned with administering audits and overseeing elections. (For some bizarre reason, Richardson's also trying to lump Chinese trade missions into the deal.)

"You know, in this position," Richardson said in a 2015 statement announcing his candidacy, according to the Oregonian, "it doesn't matter whether you're a social conservative or social liberal."

Oregonians apparently believed him—Richardson beat Avakian in a tight race—and now, in 2017, the secretary of state of Oregon believes being gay is immoral. And he believes that doesn't matter.

"I try my best to treat everyone the same," Richardson said in the OPB interview. "I don't believe you can find a gay or lesbian person that I have treated without respect. I don't think that every lifestyle is the same, or is good... but everyone has the right to make their own choice. Those that want me to fully embrace what they're doing—that's different than for me to accept what they're doing."