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A Republican lawmaker in New Hampshire has apologized after calling LGBTQ people a “deviant sexuality.”
State Rep. Dick Marston made the comment last week during debate over a bill that would ban the gay “panic” defense, in which defendants argue for leniency for violence crimes committed against an LGBTQ person by blaming the victim’s identity.
Marston opposed the bill, suggesting that banning the defense was unnecessary saying he didn’t “want to have special privileges for special people.”
“If you kill somebody you should be charged for murder,” he continued, “and you should be tried on it, and there’s no way in heck that you’re going to be able to say ‘Well because he or she was some deviant sexuality that I’m not…'” Marston said, before he was cut off by fellow Republican Rep. Daryl Abbas, chairman of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
Abbas passed immediate judgement on Marston’s comment, telling him, “No member is able to speak of someone’s ‘deviant sexuality’ like that.”
“What is LGBT?” Marston replied. Abbas responded by adjourning the committee and ending debate on the bill.
Democratic state Rep. Josh Query, who sponsored the bill to ban the gay “panic” defense and identifies as nonbinary, issued a statement saying they were “incredibly disheartened by the use of derogatory and harmful language and body language by Republican members of the Criminal Justice committee.”
“Rep. Marston’s referring to LGBTQ+ people as ‘sexual deviants’ and other committee members laughing during testimony from LGBTQ+ people is unacceptable behavior by members of the House,” Query said, adding, “LGBTQ+ people in New Hampshire deserve dignity and protection in statute and in the legislative process, just as much as all Granite Staters do.”
In his apology, issued Friday, March 5, Marston asked for forgiveness and blamed his age for the comments, the Trumbull Times reports.
“I believe that it is important that I continue to do everything I can to heal the pain I have caused,” Marston said in a statement.
“I pray that the people I offended can find it in their hearts to forgive me and accept my apology. For the people who are not ready to forgive me, I understand,” he continued. “All I ask is that you not give up on me because I give my word that I continue my progress and guide others to being better people.”
He said that he was part of a “generation where my comments were accepted by society.”
“However, just because I am in my 80s is no excuse to justify my comments,” he added. “Rather, it is a reminder of the progress our society has made. I am sorry I was late in joining the rest of you who already made that progress.”
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