Raleigh, N.C. — Sen. Buck Newton, R-Wilson, says he was not referencing sexuality when he called on supporters Monday to help him "keep our state straight."
"Go home, tell your friends and family who had to work today what this is all about and how hard we might fight to keep our state straight," Newton said during a rally in support of House Bill 2, the controversial measure passed in response to Charlotte's transgender nondiscrimination ordinance.
The law has provoked a backlash from a number of corners, including businesses and entertainers, as well as the LBGT community. It has been the focus of statewide and national news reporting for more than a month and was the subject of a day full of demonstrations and protests Monday.
Newton's remarks drew fire from both independent liberal groups and the state Democratic Party, which called on Newton to apologize.
Speaking Tuesday, Newton said he had nothing to apologize for, repeating that the bill was aimed at keeping "men out of the bathroom with little girls."
"I think the silly season is upon us, and I think this whole effort by the Democratic Party is to be expected," he said. "I never mentioned gays or anyone. So, I'm not quite sure how they made that leap. Maybe they're being a little sensitive."
Pressed as to whether he meant to implicate a gay-straight dynamic, Newton replied, "I don't know how they made that connection. I never mentioned anything about homosexuality."
Newton is the Republican candidate for attorney general. He is running against former state Sen. Josh Stein, a Democrat.