In a fund-raising appeal sent out Thursday, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried slammed a Republican lawmaker who was caught on tape joking about killing gay people during a political forum.
State Rep. Mike Hill, a Pensacola Republican, has been widely criticized by both leading Republicans and Democrats for laughing at a suggestion from a constituent that he introduce legislation allowing gay people to be “put to death” based upon the reading of a Biblical verse.
Fried, the only Democrat holding a statewide office in Florida, introduced a resolution at Tuesday’s meeting of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet recognizing June as Pride Month and did not directly mention Hill. But she noted “recent hurtful comments” that do not “reflect Florida.”
Fried stepped up her criticism in her Thursday fund-raising message.
“I am horrified and disgusted that this man represents Floridians in our state Legislature. He refuses to apologize, so it’s time he resigns or we must vote him out!” Fried wrote. “Let’s band together this Pride Month and do what we can to make our state a more welcoming, inclusive place for all Floridians. I’m proud to support LGBTQ rights and will do everything in my power to stop people like Rep. Hill from advancing their hateful agendas.”
On Tuesday, Hill said he should have corrected the question posed by the constituent at the political forum.
“I apologize for not directly responding to the fact that the premise for this question was inaccurate. I deeply regret how the tone of my response to a constituent was received at this event. I believe that no matter one’s race, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, economic status or otherwise, that all lives are created equal in the image of God,” Hill said in a statement reported by the Miami Herald.
State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a gay Orlando Democrat, called Hill’s statement “an insult.”
“A non-apology forcefully squeezed out of @MikeHillfl where he claims remorse for not correcting a misquoted Bible verse about executing gays. No apology to his colleagues, to the House, or to LGBTQ Floridians. What an insult,” Smith tweeted.
After the recording of Hill went public, condemnation rained down, including from Republican Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva.
The Florida Democratic Party issued a press release pointing to other anti-gay comments Hill has offered in the past – calling his Twitter feed a “homophobic dumpster fire.” The party pointed to tweets in which Hill said that “the homosexual movement is God’s judgement,” and proposed, “Let’s replace LGBTQ with a ‘?’ That covers the whole thing.” Also on Twitter, he made fun of the way a group of men were sitting at a European Union meeting about coal usage, saying “They all cross their legs like they were gay.”
Here’s a link to a full recording of Hill’s comments at the political forum.