Anti-gay comment by party leader causes discomfort for Republicans

by Amy Kingsley

Comments Guilford County GOP Chairman Marcus Kindley made on his blog comparing homosexuals to pedophiles have touched off a firestorm of debate and launched calls for an apology from advocacy groups across the state.

Kindley made the comments in a July 10 blog entry titled ‘“Morals, Church and the American Society.’” The contentious sentences fall about midway through a long post lamenting a shift in American morals during the last half century.

‘“We now say that homosexuality is okay. That it is natural. Yes it is as natural as pedophilia,’” Kindley wrote.

Matt Hill Comer of the NC Advocacy Coalition read the blog shortly after it was posted and issued a statement calling for an apology. Within the week Equality North Carolina in Raleigh and the LGBT Community Center of the Catawba Valley joined Comer’s campaign.

Kindley has accused Comer of taking the comments out of context and using them for political purposes.

‘“It been kind of this political ‘gotcha’ thing out of context,’” Kindley said. ‘“I never attacked homosexuals.’”

Two days after the original post Kindley amended the blog to clarify that the comments were his and not those of the Guilford County GOP. He also inserted a parenthetical remark acknowledging that he could have made a better choice of words. He has not, however, apologized for the original comment.

‘“He’s using this divisive anti-gay rhetoric to inspire fear in people so they will support discrimination,’” Comer said.

Ian Palmquist, the director of Equality North Carolina, said Kindley’s comments traded on widely held misconceptions.

‘“I think it is a common belief that homosexuality and pedophilia are linked,’” Palmquist said, ‘“even though scientific and legal evidence has shown that heterosexuals are much more likely to commit pedophilia.’”

Kindley said he was simply comparing homosexuality to an unnatural act, not trying to conflate the two. But gay and lesbian advocates have been quick to point out the differences between the two acts. Even Bill Peaslee, the chief of staff at the North Carolina Republican Party, said homosexuality and pedophilia are not equivalent.

‘“The comparison of homosexuals to pedophiles is a poor choice of words,’” Peaslee said. ‘“Obviously practicing homosexuality is an act between two consenting adults, whereas pedophilia is the victimization of a child by an adult. So it is probably a poor comparison. But that should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle.’”

The NC Republican platform states, ‘“We believe homosexual behavior is not normal and should not be taught as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle either in public education or public policy.’”

Palmquist estimated that 10 percent of Equality NC members are Republicans. Rollin Kibbe, president of the Triangle Log Cabin Republicans, a gay and lesbian group, has weighed in on the discussion.

‘“We can’t take the actions of one man to represent the thoughts of the entire Republican Party,’” he said.

Often the most outspoken members of the Republican Party don’t represent the opinions of the majority of the group, Kibbe said. The Log Cabin Republicans disagree with the plank of the party platform concerning homosexuality, he said, but strongly support the party on economic, security and personal responsibility issues.

‘“I have no concerns about what happens in Mr. Kindley’s bed and I don’t understand why he would care what happens in mine,’” Kibbe said.

Right now the debate is at a standstill, with neither side offering to apologize or back down. Comer is contacting various political groups to try to strengthen his coalition. Kindley, on the other hand, said he wished Comer had bypassed the media.

‘“What hurts me is that Matt could have e-mailed me about it but he didn’t,’” Kindley said. ‘“Instead he put out a press release.’”

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