Update: Agema Fits With 'Lester Maddox and George Wallace,' Past Engler Aide Says
A prominent Michigan Republican, Dan Pero, adds to a public backlash against Dave Agema, a Republican National Committee member from West Michigan who recently made a controversial condemnation of same-sex marriage.
"Every Republican -- indeed, every Michiganian -- should reject Agema's silly, bigoted comments in the strongest terms," says a Tuesday afternoon Facebook post by the Lansing area political consultant, who was Gov. John Engler's chief of staff and campaign manager.
Agema "has no place in the party of Lincoln and Reagan," Pero adds. "He would be more comfortable in the company of Huey and Earl Long, Lester Maddox and George Wallace, I suspect."
A public affairs consultant and commentator in Midland, Dennis Lennox, started a Facebook thread that Pero joins. In his post, Lennox says:
I'm proud to stand firm against Dave Agema's hateful rhetoric and unabashed bigotry. This isn't about core principles or deeply held religious beliefs. One can hold traditional values without being a bigot.
Tuesday, 3 p.m.:
No one can accuse Dave Agema, an outspoken Republican National Committee member from western Michigan, of inconsistency or tailoring comments to avoid criticism from party colleagues.
The man hangs out there, defiantly provocative on social issues.
And when internal criticism comes, Agema pushes back and accuses critics of "causing dissention in the party.".
A new squabble is stirred by colorfully blunt talk at a holiday party for Berrien County Republicans, as reported by Louise Wrege of The Herald-Palladium newspaper in St. Joseph.
Top Republicans in Lansing and Washington must make peace with the Tea Party to survive as a political force, said the former state representative from Grandville, who sees opposition to same-sex marriage as a pivotal issue.
"I stand for traditional marriage, no homosexual ones," he said. "The family unit is the basic unit in society. When you tear the family apart, you tear the country apart."
He has taken flak nationally for his stance against gay marriage, but he said he doesn't mind because while working at American Airlines [as a pilot], he saw first-hand what happens when benefits are extended to gay people.
He said American Airlines workers would say a person with AIDS was their lover so that person could get medical benefits.
"Folks, they (gay people) want free medical because they're dying (when they're) between 30 and 44 years old," he said. "To me, it's a moral issue. It's a biblical issue. Traditional marriage is where it should be and it's in our platform. Those in our party who oppose traditional marriage are wrong."
See what he did there? Backing the right of gay and lesbian couples to pledge lifetime love and devotion amounts to opposing traditional marriage, in Agema's view.
Whoa now, responds a prominent Michigan Republican -- Paul Welday, a Lansing political consultant and party chairman in the 14th Congressional District, which includes Detroit and suburbs.
It's risky to ignore Agema, Welday says in an email to Republican activists obtained by Inside Michigan Politics, according to Susan J. Demas, publisher of that Lansing newsletter. She quotes from Welday's message in a "Breaking News" email blast Tuesday:
"Again, it would seem we have another political firestorm created by comments from our National Committeeman. . . .
"Given his position, he is presumed to represent the Republican Party. While many GOP activists and candidates support traditional marriage, the tone, tenor and veracity of how this issue is pursued is very important to how this is issue is approached."
Welday, who ran for Congress in 2010, said he wrote the letter with the subject line, "What Do We Expect from Our Leadership" after he was "inundated with dozens (they are still coming in at a good clip) of emails from people across Michigan protesting Dave's remarks in the most strenuous of terms."
For his part, Agema stands firm and suggests his critics are the ones hurting their party.
"Some in the GOP have decided to advance their own agendas," the national committee member says in a Tuesday afternoon email to allies obtained by Deadline Detroit. He adds:
"I was simply making a point about my opposition to same sex benefits and for traditional marriage. I stand by my words as I said them, despite efforts by others to twist the meaning of those words.
"I strongly support the GOP Platform, the Michigan Constitution and the RNC Resolutions passed in support of Traditional Marriage and will not back down from those principles.
Unity in the party is what I stressed in that speech and those that don't accept the platform are causing dissention in the party, are wrong in doing so and that is exactly what is occurring now."