A gay Republican lawmaker in Vermont has lashed out at his GOP colleagues after some of them voiced opposition to pro-LGBTQ legislation.
State Rep. Paul Martin emailed his fellow party members to say that those who opposed repealing the gay and trans “panic” defense are the “true definition of a BIGOT.”
So-called “panic” defenses typically involve a defendant seeking acquittal or reduced penalties by claiming they were in fear or became irrational upon learning of a victim’s LGBTQ identity.
Vermont lawmakers were considering legislation — sponsored by Rep. Taylor Small, Vermont’s first transgender legislator — to ban such defenses.
During a voice vote, a number of Republicans voted nay on passing the legislation, VTDigger reports. A vote count was ordered, with the official tally being recorded as 120-3 in support of passing the bill, with all nay votes by Republicans.
Martin wasted no time in admonishing his Republican colleagues for their dissent, saying he was “ashamed” to be associated with them.
“I just wanted it to be known that I am absolutely disgusted with the nay votes on H.128,” he wrote in an email. “As a member of the LGBT community, I feel you voted in favor of someone using the excuse of me being gay to kill me.”
The freshman lawmaker added that those who opposed the legislation “are the true definition of a BIGOT.”
“I don’t need any responses telling me this is unprofessional because, frankly, I don’t give a shit,” he added. “I am ashamed to be associated with you three who voted nay. I am incredibly hurt.”
A day later, the legislation was put to a roll call vote, passing 144-1. However, Republican lawmaker Brian Smith — who supported the bill — used his time to try to publicly humiliate Martin.
“I received an email from a newly elected member this morning,” he said. “There was some foul language in it that accused me of not voting the way he liked.”
Unfortunately, while trying to find Martin’s email, Smith was told by the House Speaker that he had used up his allotted time.
Martin remained unfazed, telling VTDigger that while his email may have been “slightly unprofessional…at the end of the day we’re all real people and I spoke to them like real people and passionately.”
“I’m not a part of this caucus to come in here and tell every Republican how to vote, but I’m here as a gay person,” Martin said. “I really believe that this was a nonpartisan bill, a human rights bill, and I feel very accomplished in bringing some light to it in this caucus.”
He added that he was able to convince two colleagues to switch their votes after speaking to them privately.
One Republican who was less convinced was Rodney Graham, the sole nay vote, who called the legislation a “feel-good bill,” adding, “these people, whether it’s this group, whether it’s Black Lives Matter,” are requesting “special privileges.”
“I don’t treat anybody different, but they keep claiming they want to be treated equal but they want special privileges, and we’ll never be able to be equal as long as we give in to those people and give them special privileges,” he complained.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!