- (Photo: Mark Smith for PA Facebook)
A Bradford County, Pa., commissioner has been released by the Christian band he has played guitar for since 2011 over his stance supporting same-sex marriage.
"It sort of blew my mind," said Mark Smith, who is running for Pa. lieutenant governor, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. "It was like a smack to the side of the head."
Smith, a Democrat, said that the Christian rock group One Floor Away, where he played lead guitar, gave him an ultimatum to back down from his position supporting gay marriage, or face being kicked out of the band.
"I'm a liberal Democrat, and I feel we should certain allow people to marry who they please," Smith said. "Equality is the foundation of this country; it's not something I'll back down on."
In a follow-up statement, he added: "But being forced out of a band is nothing compared to LGBT couples being told their love is irrelevant and unsanctioned. Progress on this and other issues like education that impact Pennsylvania families every day must be our focus."
The commissioner insisted that he is also not backing down from his music career despite losing his place in the band, and said: "As I campaign across Pennsylvania, I'll look for opportunities to play. Last week, I was able to play at Moondog's in Pittsburgh."
One Floor Away was formed in 2009 and is fronted by Marty Sears, listing Switchfoot and Skillet among its influences.
"As a socially-conscious band, One Floor Away is committed to promoting positive and constructive moral values," the band says on its website.
KC Sawyer, the group's keyboardist and managing director of DMKR studios, the record label behind the collective, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he does not wish to discuss the matter.
"I would prefer not to speak on the subject right now," Sawyer reportedly said. "What we do with our band we prefer to keep quiet."
A single that the band recently recorded featuring Smith that was released on iTunes is being redubbed to exclude him. For his part, the lieutenant governor hopeful, who will be campaigning in the May 2014 primary, said that he is moving on from the incident.
"I can't support them any more than they can support me," the commissioner said.
Pennsylvania is heavily divided when it comes to the issue of gay marriage, with 45 percent of respondents to a March 2013 Public Policy Polling survey saying that they support it, and 47 percent maintaining that it should continue to be illegal. The poll has an overall +/-4.4 percent margin of error.