With GOP leaders calling for Michigan Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema to resign over his latest anti-gay outbursts, we were surprised that Agema’s views would really be that shocking in a party that, as former GOProud leader Jimmy LaSalvia puts it, has a wide “tolerance for bigotry.”
Republicans like RNC chairman Reince Priebus may think by denouncing Agema’s rhetoric they are putting distance between the GOP and extremists. But at the end of the day, the party’s platform embraces the extreme anti-LGBT agenda that Agema represents, opposing not just marriage equality but also civil unions, fair employment practices, non-discrimination policies, hate crimes laws and LGBT-inclusive foreign policy.
And Agema isn’t the only RNC member who has been quite open about his anti-gay bigotry. In fact, it wasn’t very hard at all to put together a short, and by no means an exhaustive, compilation of RNC members who have made anti-gay claims similar to Agema’s.
5. Tamara Scott (Iowa)
Scott, a Concerned Women for America leader and National Republican Committee member, has alleged that the legalization of gay marriage hurt her state’s economy. She also worried that marriage equality will pave the way man-Eiffel Tower marriage.
4. Steve Scheffler (Iowa)
Scheffler got his start as the head of the Christian Coalition’s Iowa chapter (which is now the Iowa Faith and Family Coalition chapter). Under his leadership, the group falsely linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claimed that gay men typically don’t live past the age of 47.
After he became a GOP committeeman, Schleffler blocked openly gay candidate Fred Karger from joining a presidential debate, saying that Karger belonged to the “radical homosexual community” which seeks “to harass supporters of REAL marriage.” He warned against a movement in Republican circles to push the party to support gay rights, arguing that such a move would “literally destroy the Republican Party.”
When Iowa legalized same-sex marriage, Schleffler tried to repeal marriage equality and warned that his state would become “the homosexual capital of the Midwest” and dangerous for kids. “We Iowans want this state to be a good, safe environment for our kids. You ask the average person in the street whether they support gay marriage, and they’ll say no,” he wrote.
3. Bill Armistead (Alabama)
Armistead, the Alabama GOP chairman, tried last year to purge a young Republican activist from the state GOP steering committee after she criticized the party’s hardline stance again marriage equality.
When the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, Armistead accused the government of “hijacking marriage.” “Whether by a constitutional amendment or other means, US taxpayers should not be forced by their government to reward those who choose to engage in activity that had been banned in 35 states,” he said. “Alabama’s state law banning gay marriage will prevent these benefits from being extended in Alabama, but our tax dollars will still go to support a lifestyle that we fundamentally disagree with.”
Armistead also claimed same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and charged that acceptance of gay people is a “sad testament to where we are as a nation,” warning that tolerance of LGBT people puts “America on a slippery slope.”
2. Debbie Joslin (Alaska)
Alaska Republican committeewoman Debbie Joslin led her state’s campaign to bar same-sex marriage and benefits as the state’s Eagle Forum leader.
Joslin also fought a proposal to require schools to adopt LGBT-inclusive policies, warning that increased tolerance would “foster confusion in the minds of our children.” In addition, she denounced openly gay members of the Boy Scouts, whom she claimed were not “healthy role models.”
1. Ada Fisher (North Carolina)
Fisher, a National Republican Committee member from North Carolina, expressed outrage when President Obama and former President Clinton endorsed marriage equality, suggesting that it showed a lack of respect for…straight people: “OK, now I’m confessing to a poorly kept secret — I am a heterosexual black female who loves men and has achieved some modicum of success. So, now will President Obama, Bill Clinton and others give me a call for coming out and openly expressing my sexual preference?”
Fisher also suggested that gay marriage harms the black community by destabilizing the relationships closeted gay men have with women. “The psychological side of my brain is disturbed by the further negative impact of changing gender roles in undermining already fragile black families…black men in the closet are coming out or remaining on the down-low, which may be perceived as another blow to viable relationships with these men at the expense of black women.”