A member of the Republican National Committee who has been criticized for expressing anti-gay views has apparently endorsed the anti-gay propaganda law in Russia.
Dave Agema, former member of the Michigan House, expressed support for the controversial measure via Facebook posting on Tuesday, according to two sources who are able to see the message and an apparent screenshot of the link.
“Read their law. Common sense in Russia,” Agema apparently wrote in a link to a Jan. 6 posting from the Illinois Family Institute, titled, “Russia’s Anti-Propaganda Law Riles Pro-Homosexuality Crowd.”
The posting mitigates the threat of the anti-gay law in Russia by noting it emphasizes that it prohibits propaganda directed to minors, saying the fine incurred for breaking the law “hardly sounds unreasonable…for trying to inculcate other people’s children with their subjective beliefs about sexual morality.”
Critics have charged the law is so vaguely written that in Russia it’s now illegal for gay couples to publicly display affection, such as holding hands; tweeting positive messages about LGBT people; broadcasting news stories about LGBT people; equating straight and gay relationships; or wearing or displaying a rainbow flag.
As seen in the screenshot, Agema made the posting visible to only his friends on Facebook, so the Blade is unable to independently view it to confirm its accuracy. However, two sources who have access to Agema’s news feed said that it was online as of Saturday at noon.
Dennis Lennox, a Republican precinct delegate in Grand Traverse County, was among those able to see the posting and captured Agema’s words in the screenshot provided to the Blade.
“This is outrageous that a leader of the National Republican Party, my political party, is siding with an autocratic regime that believes in arresting political opponents, censoring reporters, jailing dissidents and eliminating free speech,” Lennox said. “Russia and the Putin regime — other than maybe Iran, North Korea and China, is the last regime the Republican Party or one of its leaders should associate itself with.”
Agema didn’t immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment to verify the posting or to explain why he made it.
A vocal opponent of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage, Agema has made a series of anti-gay statements in the past year that have landed him in hot water with Republican LGBT activists.
Last month, Agema reportedly said he’s seen gay people working for American Airlines falsely claim to have HIV-infected partners to obtain spousal health coverage. The Log Cabin Republicans called for his ouster, but the Michigan Republican Party took no action against him.
It’s not the first time Agema has posted anti-gay messages on his Facebook page. On the same day the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments last year on same-sex marriage, Agema posted a message on his Facebook page titled, “Everyone Should Know These Statistics on Homosexuals,” which appeared under the byline Frank Joseph, M.D.
According to an article at the time from the Detroit Free Press, it reportedly depicted gays as sexually promiscuous, rife with sexually transmitted diseases and responsible for “half the murders in large cities.”
Additionally, Agema sponsored a resolution approved in April by the Republican National Committee reaffirming the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
Jimmy LaSalvia, a gay Republican political strategist and former executive director of GOProud, said the posting demonstrates that it’s time for the Republican National Committee to condemn Agema.
“Every time Agema or someone said something like this — not as bad as this — they’ve always said, ‘We need to treat everyone with dignity and respect on issues like that, he doesn’t speak for the RNC, etc.,’” LaSalvia said. “They’ve never denounced what he said and said he’s wrong, and that’s what they need to do, but nobody over there seems to have the guts to denounce him.”
Concern over Agema’s posting comes just before the RNC is scheduled to have its winter meeting between Jan. 23-25 in Washington, D.C.
Lennox said he hopes the RNC brings up Agema’s position on Russia’s anti-gay law during the meeting.
“Frankly, I can’t believe that the Republican Party would want one of its national leaders siding with Vladmir Putin,” Lennox said.