A Republican politician in Maine has apologized for calling a survivor of the Florida school shooting a “skinhead lesbian,” but he’s still being urged to drop out of his state legislative race.
Emma Gonzalez, who is bisexual, has become a highly visible activist for gun control after surviving the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 students dead last month. Her outspokenness and that of fellow student David Hogg roused the ire of Leslie Gibson, the only declared candidate for Maine’s 57th House District, located in the southwestern part of the state.
“There is nothing about this skinhead lesbian that impresses me and there is nothing that she has to say unless you’re frothing at the mouth moonbat,” Gibson wrote on Twitter Monday, according to the Sun Journal of Lewiston, Maine. He added that she shouldn’t be called a survivor of the shooting because she “was in a completely different part of the school” at the time. He alos denounced Hogg as a “baldfaced liar” for his criticism of National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch.
He apparently used “skinhead” to describe Gonzakez because of her buzz-cut hair, but followers of skinhead ideology don’t care much for LGBT people or people of color (Gonzalez is Cuban-American). The ideology “is viciously anti-foreigner, anti-black, anti-gay, and anti-Semitic,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups.
Late Monday, Gibson issued a tweet apologizing to Gonzalez, Maine's Portland Press Herald reports. “Emma, my name is Les Gibson from Maine. I would like to extend to you my most sincere apology for how I addressed you,” he wrote. “It was wrong and unacceptable.”
He told her he knows she is “doing work that is important to you,” adding, “I would like to extend my hand in friendship and understanding to you.” His Twitter account is now inaccessible. There’s no record of a response from Gonzalez.
Gibson, a Navy veteran and longtime NRA member, told the Sun Journal he was motivated by a desire to uphold Americans’ constitutional rights. “I am very passionate about protecting our constitutional rights from those who seek their elimination,” he said. “It was not appropriate to single out the Parkland students, but I stand firm in my defense of our constitutional rights.” It could be argued, though, that the students aren’t trying to take away the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, just for some limitations on those arms.
Some Maine Democrats have lamented the lack of a candidate to run against Gibson, who is seeking to replace fellow Republican Stephen Wood, barred from running again due to term limits. “I wish I knew someone who could get into this race,” Democratic organizer Pat Fogg told the Sun Journal. “That sort of stupidity really turns people off.” Candidates affilitated with political parties have only until Thursday to file petitions to run for office, and independents have until June 1.
Several Democrats have said Gibson should withdraw from the race, as have a few Republicans. “The people of Androscoggin County deserve better than someone who lobs disgusting attacks at children who have survived the unimaginable,” Elaine Makas, the county Democratic chairwoman, told the Press Herald. “We should come together to say enough is enough, to reject this bigotry and hatred, and to show that this type of ideology has no place in Maine – but especially in the State House.” Republican state Sen. Amy Volk also said Gibson should not be running for office, and she called for “respect and kindness” among politicians.