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Lightfoot faces backlash over LGBT 'lifestyle choice' comment

Rochester City Council candidate Willie Lightfoot Junior is facing criticism for a comment about gay people.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- There's some political in-fighting heading into Thursday night’s designating convention for Monroe County Democrats.

Rochester City Council candidate Willie Lightfoot Junior is facing criticism for a comment about gay people.

Lightfoot was questioning the Democratic party's endorsement rules. A gay candidate, who earned fewer votes, may get the nod over him. That would also continue a 3-decade tradition of City Council including an openly gay member.

Lightfoot’s now coming under fire from some after questioning the process and saying "Is that reverse discrimination to anybody who chooses not live that lifestyle?" The comment was made in an interview with the Democrat & Chronicle.

Current council member Matt Haag, who is gay, was the first to respond.

"I don't want to go back to a council that thinks being gay or lesbian or trans is some sort of casual choice like you like Busch Beer or Miller Light. That's not what this is about, this is who we are, this is how we were born,” said Haag, who is not seeking re-election.

Lightfoot issued a response Thursday morning on Twitter writing in part, "I apologize for the comments I made that may have been insensitive to the LGBTQ community. That was not my intent."

But when pressed if he believed being gay was a choice, he wouldn't say. Instead, insisting this was about his political party's process.

"I'm completely open to a discussion about our party's process. I think that's an important valid discussion to have, but the process is what the process is for this election cycle,” said Haag.

Now, as in past years, Democratic party leaders appear poised to continue with tradition even if candidates like Lightfoot performed better in the nomination process.

There are five at large city council seats up for grabs. Four candidates secured the party's endorsement. Lightfoot finished fifth, but the party is expected to back openly gay candidate Matt Juda who finished 9th in that process.

"I'm actually quite thrilled that we have a Latina representing us on City Council, that three African Americans will be designated and what I'm hopeful for is that we'll have one member of the LGBT community designated. That variety of voices makes us a strong city and better community,” said Haag.

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