Lt. Gov. Robinson defends homophobic comments, dismisses calls for resignation
As Democrats from the White House to the state Senate express outrage and even call for his resignation, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson said Friday he wouldn't back down from pointed comments about homosexuality he made several months ago.Posted — Updated
“We will not be intimidated. We will not back down. We will not change our language," Robinson said. "The language I used, I am not ashamed of it. I will use it in the future because, again, it is time for parents in this state to take a strong stand for their children."
While speaking at Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove in June, Robinson called transgenderism and homosexuality "filth."
"There is no reason anybody, anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality or any of that filth," Robinson said to applause from the congregation. "And yes, I called it filth. And if you don't like it that I called it filth, come see me about it."
Sen. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg, said Thursday that North Carolina does not need open discrimination from a high-ranking public official and called for Robinson, a Republican, to resign.
Jackson is a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 2022.
"Lt. Gov. Robinson’s comments are hateful and serve to divide North Carolina. That’s not the kind of leader this state deserves," Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue said in a statement. "We believe that every person has value and deserves the dignity of equality."
White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates called Robinson's words "repugnant and offensive."
"The role of a leader is to bring people together and stand up for the dignity and rights of everyone, not to spread hate and undermine their own office,” Bates said in a statement Friday evening.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's press secretary issued a statement earlier Friday calling Robinson's comments "abhorrent."
“North Carolina is a welcoming state where we value public education and the diversity of our people. It’s abhorrent to hear anyone, and especially an elected official, use hateful rhetoric that hurts people and our state’s reputation," spokesman Jordan Monaghan said.
Robinson said Cooper's opinion "makes no difference whatsoever."
“I am tired of folks on the right being demonized for our speech while folks on the left burn, beat, rob, loot – take over entire cities and get a pass," he said.
The lieutenant governor said he wasn't speaking in his official capacity when he was at the church, only as a person holding to his religious beliefs.
"To me, it is against the tenets of my religion," he said of homosexuality and transgenderism. "But we do not live in a theocracy, and I do not have the right to tell anyone what they practice in their home.”
Teaching about those issues in public schools, however, "is absolutely off limits," he said.
"Those are adult topics that should stay in an adult place. They have no business around children," he said. "Homosexuality is not a culture. Homosexuality is a sexual preference, and sexual preferences, I believe, do not need to be discussed in our schools."
Robinson made similar remarks last week at the North Carolina Values Coalition's 10th anniversary celebration. He urged parents to stand up to school boards and school administrators who are "pushing these perverted agendas, to try to teach our children that they're really not boys or girls, or they're shoving this homosexuality garbage down their throats."
“These kinds of comments, they are literally dangerous. This is a weapon," said Allison Scott, director of impact and innovation for the Campaign for Southern Equality. “Whether that is his meaning or not, it is his words that are actually painting the picture that we as a group should not exist."
“It impacts me on such a deep level that an elected official would call me and people like me such a horrible name," said Scott, who is transgender. “There are real impacts to words, and the real impacts are the damage and hurt in people’s lives."
"At a time when LGBTQ people, especially those with multiple layers of marginalization, need a supportive state, Robinson offered transphobia and homophobia instead," Equality North Carolina Executive Director Kendra Johnson said in a statement. "No one who thinks like this should be in a position of power, and these discriminatory attitudes underscore the need for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections in North Carolina."
"It's increasingly disheartening to see people in positions of power expel so much hatred towards our community," Kori Hennessey, director of education and programs at the LGBT Center of Raleigh, said in a statement. "This level of discrimination should not be tolerated. No one chooses to be a part of a marginalized community, and our leaders should be advocating to keep us safe, not bring us down even more."
Wake County is considering adopting a ordinance to protect LGBT individuals against discrimination in public accommodations, employment and government contracts. Scott said Robinson's statements prove such local laws are needed in North Carolina.
Robinson said he's not bigoted against LGBT individuals, and to people hurt by his remarks, he said he's "sorry they feel contrary to the way I feel in a spiritual aspect."
"This issue, as it is being raised right now, I believe, is an attempt to intimidate people into not speaking up against it being introduced into the classroom," he said of the backlash against his comments.
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