The lone Democrat on the Florida Cabinet, state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is using Rep. Mike Hill’s reaction to comments from a member of an audience in Pensacola that gay people be put to death, to raise money for Gay Pride which runs through June.
“I am horrified and disgusted that this man represents Floridians in our State Legislature,” Fried said in an email sent out to supporters. “He refuses to apologize, so it’s time he resigns or we must vote him out!”
Hill responded on Wednesday with an apology for his actions.
The Pensacola Republican met with constituents at Pensacola City Hall last month. During the meeting, a man raised the point the Bible’s 1 Corinthians that calls for a man having an affair with another man to be put to death. That was followed by a suggestion that Hill introduce legislation to that effect. The audience chuckled and Hill joined the audience.
“Hill smilingly entertained the suggestion that he introduce legislation to kill homosexuals,” Fried told supporters in her email. “He said that LGBTQ people should not be a protected class under the law because, according to him, “it’s a behavior, and it’s a choice.”
Democrats and Republicans condemned Hill’s response after details of the exchange were published in the Pensacola News Journal. Despite calls from both sides to apologize, Hill refused.
“Your social media lynching is despicable. I never laughed at a joke about killing gays, and you know it. Your trash media has a history of attacking me,” Hill tweeted.
But Wednesday, Hill issued an apology.
“I deeply regret how the tone of my response to a constituent was received at this event,” Hill said in a statement. “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. I served in the U.S. Air Force to protect the many freedoms we have in the United States for all Americans.”
Fried followed up with her email Thursday.
“Let’s band together this Pride Month and do what we can to make our state a more welcoming, inclusive place for all Floridians,” she wrote.
”Even though nearly 5% of this state’s adult population is LGBTQ, Florida has no state laws that address discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation,” Fried went on to say.
“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.”