LGBTQ organizations are calling on a Trenton politician to resign after she delivered an antigay tirade during a coronavirus briefing.
During the Saturday meeting of the Trenton City Council, held by phone, Councilwoman Robin Vaughn called the gay mayor of New Jersey’s capital, Reed Gusciora, a “motherfucking drug addict pedophile.” She added that "the only thing [Gusciora] brought into City Hall is a bunch of young boys, and they’re sitting up there in the mayor’s suite,” according to excerpts from the transcript published in The Trentonian.
Vaughn also launched a homophobic attack on Councilmember Joe Harrison during the nearly hour-long call. Several times, she told Harrison to engage in oral and anal sex acts with the mayor. The councilwoman said both were “bitches” rather than “real men.”
The call got “out of hand,” Gusciora told The Trentonian, after the mayor had challenged Vaughn to name the “do-nothing” nonprofits she had criticized in a social media post. An escalating argument ensued with name-calling from both parties: Gusciora referred to Vaughn as “Radioactive [Robin],” a nickname from the local press, and an “idiot” at various points.
This is not the first time Vaughn has made headlines related to charged language. In September, she defended a councilmember who used an anti-Semitic slur, drawing criticism as a result.
In response to the leaked diatribe, the head of Garden State Equality, Christian Fuscarino, urged Vaughn to resign.
"Councilwoman Vaughn is unfit to serve the people of Trenton," Fuscarino told The Trentonian. "There's no need to parse words here: for her hateful anti-LGBTQ language and defending the anti-Semitic slurs of others, she must resign. Her words are an attack on the diversity of Trenton's community, the city's elected leadership, and our state as a whole. Any decent-minded New Jerseyan who believes in the success and future of our state's capital should denounce this hateful rhetoric and call for her to step down immediately.”
Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, issued a statement slamming Vaughn for deploying “the oldest and ugliest of stereotypes” that impacted "the many LGBTQ kids in the West Ward [Vaughn's district] who already struggle to take pride in who they are."
“Trenton, like the rest of the nation, is in the midst of a pandemic and it is sad an important coronavirus briefing among elected officials would devolve into such pandemonium,” Parker said. “The presiding officer had a duty to call Vaughn to order or recess the meeting when she launched her screaming tirade, her colleagues had a responsibility to end the quorum until civility was restored, and the mayor should have tempered his response. But what is clear is that Vaughn is toxic and unfit to serve in an elective body.”
Gusciora released a statement Monday, saying he had “regret” for “interacting” with Vaughn but also suggesting that her “divisive and disruptive behavior” made her unfit for office.
“Government leaders at all levels will disagree on the best course of action, and sometimes emotions can get the best of us. But Councilwoman Vaughn chose to launch into a vitriolic attack full of homophobic slurs, false accusations, and hateful comments. This was beyond the pale,” he said. “The toxic and harassing language used by the Councilperson has no place even in the most heated of arguments.”