Ken’s Take on the World


Dave Agema and the Ghosts of Christmas Past

 

Recent comments made by a former state legislator regarding gay people have been mutedly condemned by folks, mostly from the state of Michigan, who basically tsk-tsk his statements to a group of Republicans at a Berrien County event.  Notwithstanding the gross inaccuracy of his statements to this conservative group, his comments are extremely troublesome for a party that is desperately trying to appear to become more inclusive and more tolerant of groups in which the Republican Party has to make significant inroads if it intends to survive as a viable alternative to progressive voices in the political realm.

According to an article in MILive written by, Jonathon Oosting on December 10, 2013:

“Some American Airlines employees, he claimed, would tell the company that a person with AIDS was their lover in order to help them get medical benefits.

“Folks, they (gay people) want free medical because they’re dying (when they’re) between 30 and 44 years old,” Agema said. “To me, it’s a moral issue. It’s a Biblical issue. Traditional marriage is where it should be and it’s in our platform. Those in our party who oppose traditional marriage are wrong.”

Agema’s comments were part of a larger speech calling for unity between various Republican factions under the party’s official platform.”

According to, Louise Wrege, of The Herald-Palladium in southwestern Michigan, the event Mr. Agema was addressing was the Berrien County Republican Holiday Party where he also addressed how he believed it was wrong for American Airlines to extend health benefits to same-sex partners and that he,

“saw firsthand what happens when benefits are extended to gay people.

He said American Airlines workers would say a person with AIDS was their lover so that person could get medical benefits.

‘Folks, they (gay people) want free medical because they’re dying (when they’re) between 30 and 44 years old,” he said. “To me, it’s a moral issue. It’s a Biblical issue. Traditional marriage is where it should be and it’s in our platform. Those in our party who oppose traditional marriage are wrong.’”

He has come under fire on multiple occasions for his statements opposing marriage equality.  In response to his most recent comments, Republican leaders in the state have offered perfunctory statements distancing themselves from his comments but failing to condemn his intolerance or demand his resignation as a Republican National Committee member.  He was elected to this position in 2012 after defeating incumbent Saul Anuzis.

Also, in The Herald-Palladium article,

“He said he accepted the position as the state representative to the Republican National Committee so he could help get conservatives like himself elected.

“It’s very important that you get involved with your politicians at a grass roots level and make sure that politician you’re trying to get elected fits certain criteria,” he said. “They must be a fiscal conservative. They must be a moral conservative. And they must be a Constitutional conservative or I won’t endorse them.”

While he was a representative in Lansing, he said he would not vote for a bill if it increased taxes, fines or fees.”

Mr. Agema’s comments are not about conservative values.  They are about his personal hatred of gay people and his repeated comments confirm this.  More importantly, they underscore the attitude and direction of today’s Republican Party.  His opposition to extending domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples in the 1990’s is consistent with current Republican actions that would continue to let health insurance companies discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions.  His claims that gay people acted fraudulently in attempting to obtain health insurance benefits for their partner’s is reprehensible and not supported by the facts.  He has claimed that the city of San Francisco essentially black-mailed his employer, American Airlines into providing such benefits which is also patently false.  While the City of San Francisco did pass such legislation it was partially struck down by the Courts and therefore, did not force American Airlines, or any national company, to abide by it.  American Airlines, as did many other large companies, decided later to implement such benefits as a strictly business decision.

In the 1980’s and early-1990’s, the AIDS epidemic did, in fact, claim the lives of a great many people.  While the great majority of those who died in the United States were gay men, by the late-1980’s, and certainly by the early-1990’s, it was well known that AIDS was not simply a disease of gay men.  That is certainly the case today.  The opposition to affordable health insurance then most assuredly led to the untimely demise of many people in the prime years of their lives.  The current opposition to affordable health insurance for all people will absolutely lead to the untimely demise of many people and not just those affected by HIV and AIDS.  As Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by three ghosts during the Christmas season, I wonder if Mr. Agema sees the ghosts of those who have died as a result of his hatred and intolerance?

If the Republican Party is going to continue to permit hatred, lies and intolerance to guide its selection of leaders, the Party will collapse.  This would truly be a tragedy for fiscally-conservative values.  Statements like those made by Mr. Agema must be soundly condemned by the leadership of the Republican Party.  “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)  Are there any good men in the Republican Party?

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