A Florida Republican lawmaker has kicked off Pride Month by joking about killing homosexuals and then refusing to apologise for doing so. Well, that's great, isn't it?
Representative Mike Hill of Pensacola joked and laughed about a constituent's comments that gay people should be put to death, drawing harsh backlash from across the state.
According to a recording and audio by the Pensacola News Journal, made on May 23 at Pensacola City Hall, a constituent at the meeting said:
In 1 Corinthians, it says that a man who has an affair with another man will be put to death.
In response, Hill said:
It says that in the Old Testament, too.
Another constituent then interjected:
Can you introduce legislation?
In response, Hill joined in with audible laughter in the audience, saying:
I wonder how that would go over?
Condemnations of the comments poured in from across the state, from sources ranging from his hometown newspaper to Democratic state Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, who is one of three openly gay Florida lawmakers, reports Florida Politics.
Taking to Twitter, Rep Smith wrote:
I’m shocked & disgusted to discover a colleague who I’ve worked closely with would joke about punishing me by death for being gay. As a survivor of anti-gay hate violence, I know the consequences of homophobia are real. @MikeHillfl should apologize to LGBTQ Floridians or RESIGN.
I’m shocked & disgusted to discover a colleague who I’ve worked closely with would joke about punishing me by death… https://t.co/gyIie9etBv
— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@Rep. Carlos G Smith)
In a tweet, Hill responded to the criticism issued by Smith.
Taking to the social media site, he wrote:
Fake news, Carlos! And you know it. I never said I wanted to kill anyone! Instead, I am being attacked because I have made a strong stand to protect the pre-born in the womb.
With calls for resignation continuing to pour in, on 1 June, Hill tweeted to complain he was the victim of a 'social media lynching'.
In the tweet, he wrote:
Absurd to ask me to apologize for a statement that I did not make and that no one took seriously. This is a social media lynching!
In a written statement, Bandon Wolf, a Pulse massacre survivor and Equality Florida media relations manager, said:
Words matter. The comments made by Representative Mike Hill this week are both deeply disturbing and dangerous.
Representative Hill should be embarrassed and ashamed for laughing along with the suggestion that he file legislation requiring the execution of LGBTQ people.
We live in a diverse and inclusive state where the overwhelming majority of Floridians agree that no one should be discriminated against based on who they are or who they love.
In less than two weeks our community prepares to mark three years since Pulse, the most deadly attack on LGBTQ people in this nation’s history, and we have never been more aware of how degrading and dehumanizing LGBTQ people causes harm.