EL PASO, Texas - District 8 candidate Robert Cormell has been under fire for his stance on gay marriage – some even calling him homophobic.
On Friday, Cormell told NewsChannel 9, “There’s no need for me to comment on something like that because I got history” – referencing his stint as a business owner and his willingness to serve anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.
He said, "We served the whole community -- poor people, rich people, gay people, straight people, Democrats, Republicans, all these people."
Earlier this week, the El Paso Times' editorial board criticized Cormell’s previous statements on same-sex marriage and endorsed his opponent, Cecilia Lizarraga.
However, Lizarraga would only answer NewsChannel 9’s questions after speaking to a consultant.
When asked if she supports gay marriage, she would not give her personal opinion. However she did say she supports the city’s policy that allows domestic partners of city employees to receive health insurance.
Specifically she said, “I can't speak for Mr. Cormell but the city ordinances are law and I intend to follow the law.”
Cormell said he does not support same-sex marriage but would not discriminate against gay people.
He also mentioned running a teen center and urged his skeptics to ask any of the kids he helped if he discriminated against them because of their sexual orientation, race or whether or not they were on probation.
He said, "This is the narrative – you can't be a person of faith and believe God created marriage between one man and one woman.”
“You can't believe that and be in public office?” he asked rhetorically.
“That's like saying we can't have someone on city council who is atheist because we have a Catholic population of 70 percent in El Paso,” he said.
The backlash on social media stems from statements Cormell made before running for city representative.
During his 2013 bid for mayor, Cormell promised to repeal a city ordinance that extended benefits to domestic partners of city employees including same-sex couples.
He told NewsChannel 9 that’s because, initially, voters did not support that measure.
Additionally, in 2015, he spoke out publicly against the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriages nationwide.
Potential voters in district 8 told NewsChannel 9 they would not support a candidate who doesn’t support same-sex marriages.
“We should be for same-sex marriages,” said Miguel Magallon.
“I think it’s important – people should be for it,” said Laura Ponce. “I feel like I wouldn’t vote for him because he’s against.”
The special runoff election is July 15 but early voting is already underway.