In an appearance last month on a conservative talk radio show, embattled RNC Committeeman Dave Agema defended the anti-gay comments that caused prominent Republicans to call for his resignation.
Agema insisted that his anti-gay stance has nothing to do with animus towards gay people, he just believes that gay rights will doom America.
The former Michigan state legislator said on The Renegade River Show that gay rights weaken the family “and when you start destroying the family unit in a nation, the nation starts to crumble from within.”
“Look at the Greek empire, look at the Roman empire,” Agema continued. “Basically, I am trying to protect America.”
He also maintained that schools are “teaching the homosexual lifestyle, how to be a homosexual in some sort of class that they’re teaching that we’re paying for,” and argued that gay marriage had major repercussions in Denmark, Netherlands and Switzerland (a country that has not legalized gay marriage).
If Dave Agema were to lose his post at the Republican National Committee over recent anti-gay and anti-Muslim comments, he could probably find a job at the American Family Association – a group that can’t seem to get enough of his bigoted remarks. After appearing on Focal Point with AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer, yesterday Agema spoke to the AFA’s governmental affairs director Sandy Rios on her talk show.
As Kyle has already pointed out, the embattled GOP activist holds a warped view of the First Amendment: “Agema, like so many anti-gay right-wing martyrs before him, seems to be operating under the delusion that ‘freedom of speech’ mean that they are entitled to say anything they want without receiving any criticism or suffering any consequence whatsoever.”
While speaking to Rios, Agema continued to insist that calls for him to resign from the RNC are direct attacks on his right to freedom of speech. He vowed not to resign, lest the culture keep “shoving this idea down our throat that we have to accept this homosexual lifestyle.”
When they use the rules of Saul Alinksy that basically you cut off support from your networks, isolate the person through cruel [sic] and ridicule and so forth, what happens is they fear. The biggest thing is right now we’ve got Hollywood, you’ve got the news media, you’ve got ignorant school courses, you’ve got the Grammys now that are shoving this idea down our throat that we have to accept this homosexual lifestyle.
The whole thing really boils down to the freedom of speech, I think that’s what is stopping me. I put it on my Facebook – an article on freedom of speech and how political correctness is taking away our freedom of speech and that is directed mostly by Hollywood and the news media are [sic] telling us what political correctness is and that’s I think what is really hurting this country.
If you are a member of the Republican National Committee who is currently under intense pressure to resign due to your long history of making bigoted anti-gay and anti-Muslim comments, perhaps it is not the best course of action to go on a radio program hosted an equally bigoted Religious Right host with an even longer record of making outrageous statements in an effort to defend yourself.
But that is exactly what Dave Agema did today when he showed up on Bryan Fischer's show in order to play the victim and comparing himself to Phil Robertson and Evander Holyfield and others who have supposedly been persecuted for simply telling the truth. For his part, Agema vowed to stand on principle and never to resign from the RNC rather than become a victim of "political correctness."
"Political correctness is taking the place of freedom of speech," Agema told Fischer. "And if you look at what's happened just here in the news media and particularly in Hollywood in the Grammys, they are just shoving this stuff down our throats and very few people are speaking up. And if you do speak up, you can expect to be slammed, and that's exactly what they call it, slamming and jamming, what they're doing to me right now":
Agema, like so many anti-gay right-wing martyrs before him, seems to be operating under the delusion that "freedom of speech" mean that they are entitled to say anything they want without receiving any criticism or suffering any consequence whatsoever.
With GOP leaders calling for Michigan Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema to resign over his latest anti-gay outbursts, we were surprised that Agema’s views would really be that shocking in a party that, as former GOProud leader Jimmy LaSalvia puts it, has a wide “tolerance for bigotry.”
Republicans like RNC chairman Reince Priebus may think by denouncing Agema’s rhetoric they are putting distance between the GOP and extremists. But at the end of the day, the party’s platform embraces the extreme anti-LGBT agenda that Agema represents, opposing not just marriage equality but also civil unions, fair employment practices, non-discrimination policies, hate crimes laws and LGBT-inclusive foreign policy.
And Agema isn’t the only RNC member who has been quite open about his anti-gay bigotry. In fact, it wasn’t very hard at all to put together a short, and by no means an exhaustive, compilation of RNC members who have made anti-gay claims similar to Agema’s.
Scheffler got his start as the head of the Christian Coalition’s Iowa chapter (which is now the Iowa Faith and Family Coalition chapter). Under his leadership, the group falsely linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claimed that gay men typically don’t live past the age of 47.
After he became a GOP committeeman, Schleffler blocked openly gay candidate Fred Karger from joining a presidential debate, saying that Karger belonged to the “radical homosexual community” which seeks “to harass supporters of REAL marriage.” He warned against a movement in Republican circles to push the party to support gay rights, arguing that such a move would “literally destroy the Republican Party.”
When Iowa legalized same-sex marriage, Schleffler tried to repeal marriage equality and warned that his state would become “the homosexual capital of the Midwest” and dangerous for kids. “We Iowans want this state to be a good, safe environment for our kids. You ask the average person in the street whether they support gay marriage, and they’ll say no,” he wrote.
3. Bill Armistead (Alabama)
Armistead, the Alabama GOP chairman, tried last year to purge a young Republican activist from the state GOP steering committee after she criticized the party’s hardline stance again marriage equality.
When the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, Armistead accused the government of “hijacking marriage.” “Whether by a constitutional amendment or other means, US taxpayers should not be forced by their government to reward those who choose to engage in activity that had been banned in 35 states,” he said. “Alabama’s state law banning gay marriage will prevent these benefits from being extended in Alabama, but our tax dollars will still go to support a lifestyle that we fundamentally disagree with.”
Armistead also claimed same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and charged that acceptance of gay people is a “sad testament to where we are as a nation,” warning that tolerance of LGBT people puts “America on a slippery slope.”
2. Debbie Joslin (Alaska)
Alaska Republican committeewoman Debbie Joslin led her state’s campaign to bar same-sex marriage and benefits as the state’s Eagle Forum leader.
Joslin also fought a proposal to require schools to adopt LGBT-inclusive policies, warning that increased tolerance would “foster confusion in the minds of our children.” In addition, she denounced openly gay members of the Boy Scouts, whom she claimed were not “healthy role models.”
1. Ada Fisher (North Carolina)
Fisher, a National Republican Committee member from North Carolina, expressed outrage when President Obama and former President Clinton endorsed marriage equality, suggesting that it showed a lack of respect for…straight people: “OK, now I’m confessing to a poorly kept secret — I am a heterosexual black female who loves men and has achieved some modicum of success. So, now will President Obama, Bill Clinton and others give me a call for coming out and openly expressing my sexual preference?”
Fisher also suggested that gay marriage harms the black community by destabilizing the relationships closeted gay men have with women. “The psychological side of my brain is disturbed by the further negative impact of changing gender roles in undermining already fragile black families…black men in the closet are coming out or remaining on the down-low, which may be perceived as another blow to viable relationships with these men at the expense of black women.”
Pressure is growing on Republican National Committee member Dave Agema to resign because of his long history of making outrageous anti-gay and anti-Muslim statements, with both RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Michigan GOP Chairman Bobby Schostak calling for him to step down.
But Agema does have one stalwart defender: Bryan Fischer, which is no surprise since Fischer likewise has a long history of making outrageously bigoted anti-gay and anti-Muslim statements. Today, Fischer dedicated a segment of his radio program to declaring that Agema is one of his heroes who, just like Jesus, is being targeted simply for telling the truth.
"There is only one test now to determine whether someone is a genuine conservative or not," Fischer said, "and that test is whether they support, embrace the homosexual agenda or whether they will criticize the normalization of homosexuality":
Back in 2012, Saleem was scheduled to address a forum at a Michigan public school about the supposed dangers of Muslims in the U.S., prompting People For the American Way and the Council on American Islamic Relations to send a joint letter to the school asking them not to provide a platform for someone promoting misinformation and intolerance.
The school cancelled the event due to safety concerns after independently discovering that Saleem’s supporters bragged that he is a target of terrorist threats.
The hosts of the event — Republican National Committeeman and former state lawmaker David Agema, a local county commissioner, and a chapter leader of the anti-Muslim group ACT! for America — sued the school, the city and other city officials for a variety of claims, as well as PFAW and CAIR for the tort of interfering with a contract.
Right Wing Watch, a project of PFAW, was also mentioned in the lawsuit [PDF], which says the blog “criticizes and disparages conservative politics and Christian–Judeo values.”
The organizers were represented by Thomas More Law Center, a far-right legal group which counts Michele Bachmann and Allen West as board members, and its attorney Erin Mersino.
Today, a federal judge dismissed their lawsuit, noting that the plaintiffs “fail to state a constitutional deprivation” and base their lawsuit on “mere conclusory statements.”
Judge Janet Neff, a Bush appointee, correctly found that PFAW and CAIR were within their First Amendment rights to send a letter to the school: “The Court agrees that the petition from Defendants CAIR-MI, [Dawud] Walid, PFAW and [PFAW president Michael] Keegan to the school superintendent constitutes an attempt to influence governmental action, a petition that is protected by the First Amendment.”
As we’ve noted before, the Thomas More Law Center doesn’t exactly have the best track record:
Agema told Perkins that the church should help gays and lesbians “get out of” their “lifestyle,” and tell them “about all the diseases you get, how it gets you into drugs, gets you into all these other things that you don’t want to be in.”
He said gay people should be treated no differently than alcoholics: “if you saw your friend for example dying of alcoholism would you just stand quietly by and watch it happen? Or would you speak up and say hey I want to help you.”
Agema lamented that wealthy and powerful gay activists are suppressing the facts and making the truth-tellers “shut up,” to which Perkins agreed and added that homosexuality is “personally destructive and harmful to the society as well.”
Agema: There’s definitely hate, they call you every name in the book. What I’d like to have the homosexual community know is I don’t hate them, as a matter of fact when Jesus caught the woman in the act of adultery when they brought her to him he said I don’t condemn you but go and sin don’t more. That ought to be the church’s goal here. We ought to be saying to these people: hey, we don’t agree with your lifestyle and we’ll help you get out of it, but we want you to know the facts of what’s going to happen to you if you stay in this lifestyle.
Study after study after study talks about all the diseases you get, how it gets you into drugs, gets you into all these other things that you don’t want to be in. So if you really love someone, if you really were concerned about someone, if you saw your friend for example dying of alcoholism would you just stand quietly by and watch it happen? Or would you speak up and say hey I want to help you. That’s what we should be doing. But the problem is the homosexual community is very organized, they got a lot of money behind them, as a matter of fact the average homosexual makes more than the average person does, has better education and they are very good at shutting anybody down and embarrassing him so they will shut up. So when this happened to me this time just like when it happened to me before I thought, I’m not going to keep quiet on them. It’s starting to backfire on them.
Perkins: I could not agree with you more. I think probably the most profound display of hate would be silence in the face of people making choices that are personally destructive and harmful to the society as well. I want to thank you for standing up because you are absolutely right, a lot of people have self-censored themselves because of the intimidation, they’ve simply backed away and said I don’t want people saying that stuff about me because that’s not who I am, and we’re not haters.
The Republican leader argued that marriage equality and LGBT-inclusive curriculum in school may eventually turn kids gay and make parents and churches victims of hate crime laws. He called on schools to teach kids that gay people “live twenty years less than the average person” and tell gay students about “all the diseases you’re going to contract.”
Perkins also told Agema that he agreed with his Facebook post and is only in trouble for “presenting the truth.”
Agema: I think what the people have to know is if this passes, what will happen is it is just a progression of events that will occur. First of all, what will happen to your school kids when they are in school, it’s already being taught in a lot of places that it is an accepted lifestyle. Then the next thing that will occur is your kids will come home and say I think this is a good thing and I think I want to be one, and if you as a parent stand up and say this is against my moral beliefs and my biblical beliefs, then the next thing you’re going to get into is hate crimes because you’re speaking against something that’s been sanctioned by the state. If you look at Denmark and others then the state also tells the churches you have to marry homosexuals and if you don’t what may happen in the United States is you might lose your tax exempt status.
So this all blew up and so I made a web page here listing several other studies that show the harmful effects of the homosexual lifestyle. Just imagine this, if our kids are in school instead of being told that this is an acceptable and OK lifestyle we are actually briefed and taught the ramifications of this lifestyle, that you’re going to live twenty years less than the average person, you are going to die younger and here’s all the diseases you’re going to contract, there’d be a totally different philosophy here instead of basically telling the kids that this is good. So I think we got to go into this with our eyes wide open and what the 2 or 3 percent of homosexuals what they are doing in the United States today is trying to get the courts to do what they can’t get the individual states to do, and that’s dictate that all states will accept homosexual marriage.
Perkins: I’m joined by Dave Agema; he is the Republican National Committeeman from the state of Michigan. We’re talking about a post that he put on his Facebook page citing facts, statistics regarding the homosexual lifestyle during the oral arguments before the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage. What is troubling to me is that your post has been called a form of hate but simply what you are doing is having a conversation presenting the truth. These are documented facts. I looked at what you put up there and some of it is the same information we have on our website, some of it comes from the CDC, comes from other medical sources, it’s all footnoted, there’s nothing hate in here it is just talking about the facts. This is troubling that you can’t even have a conversation about what’s in the best interest of our society without being a bigot or a hater.
Agema: That’s exactly how they get you to shut up.