Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

December 14, 2013

Activists want GOP rebuke of anti-gay comments

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A normally routine meeting of the Michigan Republican Party this weekend could get dicey when activists move to rebuke statements such as GOP National Committee member Dave Agema's recent assertion that gay people want health coverage because of the threat of AIDS.

Jason Watts, secretary of Allegan County's Republican Party, has proposed a resolution for Saturday's meeting to disavow Republicans who use the party platform to "espouse demagogic rhetoric that is incendiary and unbecoming of civil discourse."

Agema's name does not appear on what is being called a de-facto censure motion, which also affirms the party's support of marriage as only between a man and woman.

Agema, who came under fire in March for posting an article on Facebook claiming gays account for half of murders in large cities, told Berrien County Republicans last week that his experience as an American Airlines pilot made him familiar with efforts by gays to get health insurance coverage because of the ravages of AIDS.

"Folks, they want free medical because they're dying between 38 and 44 years old," he said.

Agema, who said his words were twisted out of context, has not backed down and has accused some in the GOP who support gay marriage of causing dissension within the ranks. It wasn't clear if he planned to attend Saturday's meeting, as he couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

Gov. Rick Snyder and other top Republicans condemned Agema's comments this week. But Watts said the party should respond, too, when it meets in Lansing.

"He just made up things toward the end of the speech about homosexuals, and that's what I have a problem with," Watts said.

The committee has no power to remove Agema from the RNC because he was elected to a four-year term at a 2012 party convention.

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