Michigan Tea Party Defense of Dave Agema’s Bigoted Remarks Designed to Further Divide Republicans

Equality Michigan LogoLANSING – In an email sent by the Madison Project Michigan PAC, Jack Hoogendyk used a defense of Dave Agema to further divide conservatives in Michigan. Recounting the recent situation with Agema, the email asks “Hate speech? Fear tactics? Hateful rhetoric and unabashed bigotry? Was the rank and file Republican Party calling for Dave’s scalp? Are they really embarrassed by Dave’s comments or are some members of Republican leadership cowering under pressure from the real hate groups like Equality Michigan?” The email suggests “If the GOP is really looking for unity, they can start by muzzling those who are coordinating with and inviting left wing journalists to smear party leaders.” Hoogendyk also shares his opinion that “Dave Agema is a prophet, willing to take the slings and arrows of the left and members of his own party to speak the truth.”

Agema, a Michigan national GOP committeeman, recently made a series of hateful and ignorant remarks about people living with HIV and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities. In response, numerous Republicans spoke out publicly against Agema’s comments and health care professionals pointed out the lies in Agema’s remarks. Agema’s former employer, American Airlines, also released a statement calling Agema’s remarks inaccurate representations of history and the company’s position on providing domestic partnership benefits to their LGBT workers.

“Jack Hoogendyk, Dave Agema, and other Tea Party leaders continue to harm the Republican Party by making statements that can only cause further division. Ironically, the statements are nestled not so subtly in messages which profess to promote party unity. This represents a toxic and desperate attempt to “rally the troops” as Agema and his friends have few left in their closed-minded club. Extremists are angered to see many Republicans favoring a more reasonable and constructive dialogue on LGBT issues. A May 2013 poll showed support for marriage equality amongst Michigan Republican voters rose a staggering 14-16% in 2012. If young Republicans are any indication, polls will show that rose even further this year. Hoogendyk and I agree on one thing and that is that you should have your facts straight. Agema’s Republican colleagues, American Airlines, the Michigan Department of Community Health, and many voters have already done what Hoogendyk is asking, and they have concluded that Agema’s remarks do not represent them, the truth, or the future of Michigan,” said Emily Dievendorf, managing director of Equality Michigan.

The matter has brought greater attention to the need to pass an LGBT inclusive amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976, Michigan’s law prohibiting discrimination against people based on characteristics such as their religion, political affiliation, sex, race, height, weight, and a number of other attributes.

Equality Michigan, a statewide anti-violence and advocacy organization, advocates for the rights of LGBT individuals and people living with HIV. The organization’s members have sent hundreds of emails calling on Republican leadership to denounce Agema’s remarks and has been on the forefront of the effort to amend Elliott-Larsen for over twenty years. Anyone opposed to Agema’s remarks can take action online: http://eqmi.us/agema13.

Via press release