RNC Chair Tells Agema to Resign, Agema Declines
After weeks of growing controversy over the numerous antigay comments made by Republican National Committee member Dave Agema, the RNC's chairman today said the Michigan politician should resign.
RNC chairman Reince Preibus and Michigan GOP chair Bobby Schostak both called for Agema's resignation during the RNC's winter meeting in Washington, D.C., reports the Washington Blade.
Preibus's comments come more than a week after former Republican and GOProud founder Jimmy LaSalvia told The Advocate's Lucas Grindley that Priebus "talks a good game, but doesn't have the balls to do what it takes to actually change things."
Michigan's Republican governor, Rick Snyder, also condemned Agema's antigay comments, calling the remarks "wrong, extreme, and discriminatory."
Earlier this week, Republican megadonor Betsy DeVos called for Agema to step down, echoing calls from more than 25 other local and national lawmakers, according to Michigan news outlet MLive.com.
Most recently, Agema posted a link on his Facebook page to a right-wing group's article about Russia's ban on so-called gay propaganda, calling the anti-LGBT legislation "common sense." In December of last year, Agema told a gathering of Republicans in Berrien County, Mich., that gay people "want free medical because they’re dying [when they’re] between 30 and 44 years old," a reference to HIV and AIDS. He also asserted that when he was a pilot for American Airlines, which offers domestic-partner benefits, he saw employees claim a person with AIDS as their partner so the sick person could get health care. Agema first ignited controversy last March when he posted a link on Facebook to an inaccurate article that made several unscientific medical claims about gay people and called them "filthy."
Agema himself apologized today for his antigay comments, but he dismissed the growing chorus calling for his resignation.
"In retrospect, I acknowledge errors in judgment and how I addressed [my remarks], feel badly about the impact this has had on many here in the land I love, and have learned valuable lessons about the requirements and responsibilities that are to be expected and honored by all who are in leadership positions — including myself," Agema said, according to MLive. Agema went on to say that he will use the lessons he's learned over the past several weeks in his ongoing participation in the RNC.
Then Agema cut to the chase, claiming that he has brought scores of new members to the Republican Party.
"I have received great response at packed audiences, drawing voters to the GOP," said Agema's statement. "I fully intend to honor the trust and fulfill the responsibilities to those in the Michigan Republican Party that elected me."
Notably, Agema was not in attendance at the RNC winter meeting in D.C., several publications reported. Agema cited the "liberal critics within the Republican Party" who continue to discuss his antigay and racist remarks as his reason for missing the annual gathering, reports MLive.