By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com April 26 2003 12:00 AM ET
A Minnesota state representative won't be getting any reprimands or giving any apologies for remarks he made in March about gays, the Holocaust, and AIDS in Africa. An attempt to discipline state representative Arlon Lindner failed Thursday in a 2-2 vote of the house ethics committee that followed party lines. Lindner, who has proposed repealing state human rights protections prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, had drawn criticism for questioning the extent to which Nazis persecuted homosexuals during the Holocaust. He also made statements on the house floor that some called racist. "What I'm trying to prevent is the holocaust of our children getting STDs, AIDS, and various other diseases," he said. "If you want to sit around here and wait until America becomes another African continent, well, then, you do that, but I'm going to do something about it."
Lindner, a Republican, said he stands by his remarks and has offered no apology. Asked by ethics committee members if he regrets any of the statements, he said, "Not in the least." At that, a member of the audience called Lindner a "redneck."
"You offended me, representative," shouted Bill English, of the Coalition of Black Churches and African American Leadership Summit. "Get some education and learn something before you offend a whole nation of people." Lindner responded, "I've got black people that are on my side on this."
Rep. Matt Entenza, a Democrat who is leader of the house, said the verdict means that any comments, regardless of their truth, will now be allowed on the house floor. "I think this highly partisan proceeding would give even a kangaroo court a bad name," he said.
Rep. Greg Davids, one of the two Republicans who voted not to pursue the charges, said that although he believes Lindner's comments were inaccurate, he decided the case on freedom-of-speech grounds. "I believe on the house floor he has the right to speak," Davids said.