Metro Weekly

Arizona Republican believes gay people die at 42 because homosexuality is “harmful”

Ron Gould compared homosexuality to alcoholism and said gay people should "suppress" it

Ron Gould

A former Arizona state senator believes that homosexuality is so “harmful” that gay men have an average lifespan of 42.

Ron Gould was a member of the Senate from 2005 to 2013. After reaching his term limit, he tried unsuccessfully to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. He currently serves as Mohave County Supervisor.

In an interview with the Kingman Daily Miner, Gould claimed that gay men have an average age of 42 and believes that gay men die younger because of their sexual orientation, saying “That’s why they die.”

“We all have our sins, but we should try to suppress them,” he said. “Alcoholism is harmful, too, but we don’t see groups promoting alcoholism.”

Gould previously sponsored a ban on same-sex marriage while serving in the state senate, and during the interview said that although gay people have civil rights, that doesn’t include marriage.

“It used to be ‘tolerate us,’; now it’s ‘accept us,’” he said.

Gould made a number of eye-raising comments in the interview, including denying the existence of climate change, saying, “Even if we have it, it is not man-caused. Man can’t change the weather.”

While Gould cited no specific evidence for his claims that gay men die young because of their sexuality, the Phoenix New Times suggested that he may have been referring to research from 1994 by anti-LGBTQ organization the Family Research Institute.

The organization counted obituaries in LGBTQ-focused publications and allegedly found gay men had an average lifespan of 43 years.

The figure was even quoted on TV by then-Education Secretary William Bennett, though critics noted that the deaths reported included a number of people who had died from AIDS-related complications.

“It will overrepresent those whose passing strikes others as newsworthy and underrepresent those who end their days in retired obscurity in some sunny clime,” Slate wrote at the time.

A Facebook campaign has been started in the wake of Gould’s comments, urging people to email Mohave County Manager Mike Hendrix and the Board of Supervisors to express their anger over his anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

“At a minimum, the County Administration needs to make a public statement denouncing Supervisor Gould’s comments,” one email states, “and reaffirm Mohave County’s commitment to creating a safe working environment for all employees.”

It also calls on the board to “censure Supervisor Gould for his irresponsible anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.”

Read more:

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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