A member of the Republican National Committee who’s taken heat for expressing anti-gay views indicated Friday he won’t resign from his post, despite calls from the head of his party to step down.
Dave Agema, a former Michigan state lawmaker, said in a statement on his website that he intends to continue his role representing Michigan on the Republican National Committee in the face of “a few strident advocates for homosexual marriage.”
“I have learned much over the last several weeks and will use the lessons learned to improve on my abilities to further the best interests of all people of Michigan, through my role as a proud member of the Republican National Committee,” Agema said. “I have received great response at packed audiences, drawing voters to the GOP. I fully intend to honor the trust and fulfill the responsibilities to those in the Michigan Republican Party that elected me.”
Agema refuses to resign just hours after the RNC announced Reince Priebus and Michigan Republican Party Chair Bobby Schostak have called on him to relinquish his post “for the good of the party.” The RNC didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment on Agema’s refusal to step down.
The embattled Republican faced criticism for anti-gay remarks, saying via Facebook that Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law is “common sense” and posting an article saying gay people are sexually promiscuous, rife with diseases and responsible for half responsible for the majority of murders in the country.
But Agema’s comments aren’t limited to anti-gay views. Agema also posted an old online attack piece questioning whether Muslims have contributed anything positive to American society.
Prior to Priebus’ call for Agema’s resignation, he faced criticism from gay Republicans and high-profile Michigan Republicans, most notably Betsy Devos, a former Michigan Republican Party chair and significant party donor. Reps. Candace Miller (R-Mich.), Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Dave Camp (R-Mich) also called on him to step down.
Faced with this controversy, Agema is absent during the RNC winter meeting currently underway and has sent in his place former RNC member Chuck Yob.
Gregory Angelo, executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans, has also called on Agema and called his defiance “truly pathetic.”
“If Mr. Agema’s views are as popular as he believes them to be, I would ask him to provide one — just one — individual who is willing to speak up in his defense,” Angelo said. “To date there have been zero.”
Renewing his request for Agema to resign, Angelo said if the Michigan Republican is so concerned about his leadership responsibilities “he should know that those responsibilities require him to resign and to resign immediately, for the best of the Party.”
In his statement, Agema professes that he could have handled the situation better, but blames others for stirring controversy.
“My personal beliefs and public statements expressing them as a public figure, has been attacked by a few strident advocates for homosexual marriage seeking to change Republican, Michigan and America’s mores and laws,” Agema said. “Despite our American heritage of the right to speak freely — or perhaps because of it, my personal views on the sanctity of marriage have led to loud and heated statements among some, on all sides of this issue.”
In regards to the anti-Muslim comments, Agema apologizes for the posting the online piece and expresses regret it was reposted as his words. He makes no similar apology for the anti-gay comments.
“I stand with peaceful Muslims who share my concern with radicalism and look forward to continuing to work with people of all faiths that uphold American values,” Agema said.
Additionally, Agema swears he’ll continue to use his position to defend Christians and others whom he said are victimized by the Obama administration.
“As an American who has spent his entire life remaining faithful to his religion, his family, and his country, I have been unwilling to compromise my principles, traditional values or support for the Word of God,” Agema said.
Dennis Lennox, a Republican precinct delegate in Grand Traverse County in Michigan, said the RNC must show Agema the exit if he refuses to step down.
“This is an unprecedented and extraordinary situation that can only be resolved by the removal of Dave Agema from the Republican National Committee,” Lennox said. “The Republican Party cannot afford to allow him to remain in his position even in his disgraced state. He must be defrocked or our party and our candidates and officeholders will be forced to continue discussing his hateful, bigoted and deeply offensive statements that have no place in our party.”
Sources familiar with the RNC say no mechanism is in place in the rules to remove a rogue committee member. But, as Lennox observed, “There’s nothing that doesn’t allow it.”