- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 1, 2018

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - In a story July 30 about a Missouri House race, The Associated Press erroneously referred to Democrat Robert Smith as an assistant prosecutor in Butler County. Smith used to be an assistant prosecutor there, but he now has a private law practice.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Candidate with anti-gay views running for Missouri House

A candidate with anti-gay views is running for the Missouri House of Representatives

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A candidate with anti-gay views is running for the Missouri House of Representatives.

Hardy Billington, 65, is the only Republican candidate campaigning to represent Poplar Bluff, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Billington called legalizing same-sex marriage an “outrage” in a comment promoting his 2006 book. He also bought a newspaper ad in 2012 in support of an effort to ban the mention of homosexuality in public schools.

Billington didn’t reply to requests for comment.

His Democratic opponent, Robert Smith, said he signed up because he couldn’t let Billington win office unopposed in November.

“I’ve known Hardy for 30 years, and I knew he had published those ads,” said Smith, a former assistant prosecutor in Butler County. “I don’t think it’s right to discriminate against people because of who they are.”

It’s unclear if opposition to Billington’s views will register in the deep-red district. Four-fifths of Butler County voters cast ballots for Donald Trump.

“I don’t believe someone with such hateful and ignorant views should be an elected official,” said resident Brett Keele, 17, who volunteers for local Democrats.

Thomas Graham Jr., Billington’s campaign treasurer, said the candidate is open about “his position, his personal conviction.”

“That doesn’t mean that he has any animosity towards somebody that doesn’t hold that conviction,” Graham said.

Billington has said that homosexual “lifestyles” kill people at a higher rate than smoking tobacco. But Dr. Fred Rottnek, director of community medicine at the St. Louis University School of Medicine, has called the claim “pretty spurious.”

“What might take years off of peoples’ lives are young people growing up in communities where they hear this (rhetoric) spouted from people of authority,” said Rep. Greg Razer, a gay Kansas City Democrat. “Those teenagers then commit suicide, that’s how years come off your life.”

Rep. Tom Hannegan, a gay Republican from St. Charles, said that members of his party have criticized his sexual orientation since taking office last year.

Hannegan said, “It’s unfortunate that people have these views, and all I can do is offer a different perspective.”

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