Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 29, 2013

Local Republican calls for leader to step down

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A local Republican is leading the charge against a national GOP committeeman and former Michigan lawmaker who posted an inflammatory article about homosexuality on Facebook.

Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema, of Grandville, posted the controversial article on his personal Facebook page Wednesday as the United States Supreme Court considers several questions related to the constitutionality of gay marriage.

The post criticized public schools for teaching students that homosexuality "is just another alternative lifestyle," and linked to an article attributed to a "Frank Joseph, M.D." The article refers to homosexuality as "filthy" and accuses gay and lesbian individuals of living "unhealthy lifestyles" fraught with sexual transmitted diseases. The article also quotes a New York City criminal judge as saying homosexuals account for 50 percent of all murders in big cities.

Traverse City resident and Grand Traverse County Republican precinct delegate Dennis Lennox, 28, called the post "deplorable and indefensible."

"This isn't about what we believe politically or as men and women of faith," Lennox said. "It is about common decency."

Lennox, a former Cheboygan County drain commissioner, wrote a letter asking Agema to resign from his post with the GOP national committee. More than 50 other Michigan Republican precinct delegates, most younger than 40, have signed the petition, Lennox said.

"He doesn't speak for us. We are not going to sit back and let him besmirch our party," Lennox said.

Agema defended the posting and said he is "absolutely not" going to resign.

"That piece was worth sharing given the debate happening in our Supreme Court," he said.

Agema said he doesn't know the author of the article and can't defend every statement it contains, but he pointed out the article's representations are followed by citations. The piece cites 29 sources ranging from the New England Journal of Medicine to Playboy.

Agema was elected as a GOP national committeeman in 2012 after three terms as a state representative.

He served as a fighter pilot and a lieutenant colonel during a 26-year career in the United States Air Force and the Air National Guard.

Lennox, an admirer of former governor William Milliken, said an ex-lawmaker should know better than to post "reprehensible" words in the public domain.

"This isn't the type of political rhetoric that saw Milliken elected three times, and it's not the type of political rhetoric the Republican Party would have tolerated once upon a time," Lennox said.