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RNC chairman calls for official to step down over anti-Muslim, anti-gay posts

FILE - This Aug. 28, 2012 file photo shows Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus speaking at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

"For the good of the party we believe Dave Agema should step down." So said Republican National Committee chair Reince Preibus and Michigan Republican Party chair Bobby Schostak in a comment to Detroit Free Press reporters Friday, joining three other GOP representatives from Michigan -- Candice Miller, Fred Upton and Justin Amash -- and many other prominent Michigan politicians calling on the state's current RNC rep and former state representative to resign.

On Jan. 17, Agema published a Facebook post saying, "Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?" Earlier in the week, he linked to an article about a anti-propaganda law in Russia, saying “Read their law. Common sense in Russia.”

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) made oblique references to Agema's comments in a Martin Luther King Jr. speech he gave last week, calling for "civility and respect." The Michigan Catholic Conference also released a statement Friday calling for civility: "In all things political, in present times, there must be a renewed focus on charity."

Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, a progressive nonprofit, says, “It’s about time Republican leaders called for Dave Agema’s resignation, but are they calling for him to resign because they do not support his bigotry or because his bigotry is bad for their bottom-line? A week after deep-pocketed Betsy DeVos [a former state party chair] called for Agema’s resignation, Republicans started falling in line. It’s well-past time Michigan Republicans -- and Republicans across the country -- started advocating for inclusive policies and laws because it’s the right thing to do, not just because their wealthy donors say so.”

Agema was not attending the RNC meetings where Preibus and Schostak made their statement -- his hotel reservation was canceled last minute, and he told the Lansing Free Press that his absence was due to his critics' attempts to start a “drawn-out fight between liberals and conservatives within the party.”

This isn't the first time Agema's actions have frustrated his party. A group of 20 Michigan Republicans also called on Agema to resign last May after he posted another controversial article on his Facebook wall, that time about the gay "filthy lifestyle." Schostak released a statement then saying "Our party remains in support of traditional marriage but that should never be allowed nor confused with any form of hate or discrimination toward anyone," but did not call on him to resign.

During a speech at a Republican holiday reception in Michigan this December, the Herald-Palladium newspaper in Michigan reported that he said, "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."

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.



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