Michigan’s Republican governor, through his press secretary, has condemned recent antigay comments by a fellow party member.
Gov. Rick Snyder’s press aide, Sara Wurfel, sought to put some distance between Snyder and the latest antigay statement by Dave Agema, who represents Michigan on the Republican National Committee. Last week 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.
“What I’d say, plainly and simply, is that the governor believes Mr. Agema’s remarks are wrong, extreme, and discriminatory,” Wurfel told MIRS, a Michigan news service. She added, “We shouldn’t tolerate discrimination of any kind. There shouldn’t be room for that in any political party, period.”
Agema has a history of antigay statements, including a Facebook post earlier this year that quoted an article making numerous unsubstantiated claims about LGBT people, such as “Many homosexuals admit they are pedophiles” and “The median age of death of lesbians is 45.”
Snyder has “previously avoided responding to Agema’s antigay rhetoric,” reports ThinkProgress. For instance, regarding the Facebook post, Snyder said, “I’m not going to get in the middle of all that.”
Despite his aide’s statement against discrimination, though, the governor has failed to do much about it, ThinkProgress notes. Michigan does not have a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and Snyder has refused to say whether he believes such discrimination should be banned. “It’d depend on the particular facts of the situation,” he said in an interview in October, when asked if employers should be able to fire a worker simply for being gay. He also has defended Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage and restrictions on adoption by same-sex couples.