The Democratic National Committee expelled a candidate for the committee’s chairmanship on Tuesday after he said he didn’t believe his rival should become the party’s leader because of his Muslim faith.
Vincent Tolliver, who previously ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in Arkansas, told The Hill in an email he didn’t believe his rival Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn) should become chairman because of his Islamic faith, citing the religion’s positions on homosexuality.
“His being a Muslim is precisely why DNC voters should not vote for him. Muslims discriminate against gays. Islamic law is clear on the subject, and being gay is a direct violation of it. In some Muslim countries, being gay is a crime punishable by death,” Tolliver wrote.
“Clearly, Mr. Ellison is not the person to lead the DNC or any other organization committed to not discriminating based on gender identity or sexual orientation. I’m shocked [the Human Rights Campaign] has been silent on the issue. A vote for Representative Ellison by any member of the DNC would be divisive and unconscionable, not to mention counterproductive to the immediate and necessary steps of rebuilding the Democratic Party,” he continued.
Having participated in a forum for potential DNC Chair candidates on Saturday, Tolliver has now been expelled from the race by interim chair Donna Brazile, who described his comments as “disgusting.”
“The Democratic Party welcomes all Americans from all backgrounds. What we do not welcome is people discriminating against others based on who they are or how they worship,” Brazile told The Hill.
“We expect candidates for Chair of the Party to conduct a respectful campaign based on issues. To assure that, we ask all our Chair candidates to pledge ‘to uphold the interests, welfare and success of the Democratic Party of the United States,’ and to participate in the process ‘in good faith.’ Mr. Tolliver’s disgusting comments attacking the religion of a fellow candidate fall far short of that standard. Accordingly, Mr. Tolliver is no longer a candidate for DNC Chair,” she continued.
Ellison, the first Muslim American elected to Congress, is widely considered to be a frontrunner in the race to become the next DNC chair, along with Barack Obama’s former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez.
“A few days after Donald Trump instituted a racist and unconstitutional Muslim ban, it’s disappointing that a fellow DNC candidate would fan the flames of intolerance,” Ellison’s spokesperson Brett Morrow said.
“Keith has shown first-hand his commitment to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, organizing tirelessly against the Minnesota anti-marriage equality amendment in 2012, which led to a resounding win for love at the ballot box. Trump is taking away health care for millions of people, separating families, and alienating our allies. Keith will continue to focus on uniting the Democratic party to fight back against division and hate, and to fight for the core Democratic values of tolerance and inclusion,” he continued.
Ellison has also faced accusations of anti-Semitism, having been described as an ‘anti-Semite’ by a leading Democratic Party donor. He is a former member of the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam, although has since distanced himself from the organization.
The DNC chairmanship election will take place later this month, with the winner being announced February 26th.