Republican National Committeeman David Agema ignited a national controversy when he posted an antigay diatribe on his Facebook page March 27. The post was presumably his reaction to the oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the legality of same-sex marriage. Leaders from both sides of the aisle quickly distanced themselves from his remarks, and some have called for Agema to resign his national leadership position because of his extreme views.
Agema’s posting was based on an online article titled, “Everyone Should Know These Statistics on Homosexuals,” which appeared under the byline Frank Joseph, M.D. The post depicts gays as sexually promiscuous, rife with sexually transmitted diseases and alcoholism, and responsible for “half the murders in large cities.” The sources for the article date back to 1982.
The article appears on the website http://www.traditioninaction.org, a conservative, Catholic-based website that offers publications for sale that, among other things, condemn homosexuality, defend the Inquisition’s condemnation of Galileo, posit that Vatican II was blasphemous and documents the “increasing persecution of Christians in Muslim countries and the threat of a global jihad.”
“I think it was a piece worth sharing given the debate over gay marriage that is happening in the Supreme Court,” Agema said in a written statement. “I strongly maintain my position in support of marriage between a man and a woman and I will not back down from my core beliefs in support of strengthening the family.”
Both Republicans and Democrats were quick to denounce Agema, and a group of young Republican leaders in Michigan has demanded that he resign his position on the National Republican Committee.
Dennis Lennox, a Grand Traverse County Republican precinct delegate and former county drain commissioner, issued a statement March 27 signed by 20 other Republicans condemning Agema’s “deplorable actions” and calling for his resignation.
“This isn’t about what we believe either politically or as women and men of faith,” the statement said. “This is about common decency and realizing that you cannot win an election by insulting a wide swath of the electorate, whose votes our Republican Party needs to once again form a national majority.”
Those who signed the statement, a group Lennox described as “the next generation of Michigan Republicans,” included Brad Fingeroot of the Oakland County Young Republicans, and Brian Szmytke, chairman of the Wayne County Teenage Republicans.
In recent statements to various news outlets Agema has made it clear he does not intend to resign, and on Facebook he has shared a link to a new page, “I call on Dennis Lennox to resign as Precinct Delegate.”
“I think this most recent posting by former state representative Agema once again illustrates him being completely out of touch with not only the citizenry of Michigan but society at large,” said Mark LaChey, chair of the LGBT caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party. “It is an unfortunate perpetuation of untruths and falsehoods and does nothing positive for a better understanding of the LGBT community.”
Agema has a long anti-gay history in Michigan. He sponsored or co-sponsored every piece of anti-gay legislation during his six years in the Michigan House of Representatives, including a bill to rescind domestic partner benefits for public employees and legislation that would have eliminated the state’s Healthy Michigan Fund Initiative which serves as Michigan’s contribution to receive federal HIV dollars. Under Agema’s proposal the funding would have been shifted to a fund for airport care and upkeep. He was one of six public figures featured on the Wall of Shame during the 100-Day Hunger for Equality Campaign at Affirmations Community Center in Ferndale last year.