A Republican Michigan lawmaker in Michigan said this week that he regretted calling California "the land of fruits and nuts," which his colleagues interpreted as a bigoted slur against LGBT people.
While arguing for the repeal of regulations on chair lifts, state Rep. Al Pscholka (R) pointed out that California had already deregulated the industry.
“In Michigan it costs nearly twice, nearly double that of unregulated surrounding states to install these simple residential lifts, higher costs encourage people to buy their products in neighboring states," he explained. "Sometimes they even install them themselves. And in a district like mine, Indiana is only a short drive away."
"California—even California, the land of fruits and nuts—has deregulated this industry," Pscholka quipped, adding, "Probably shouldn’t have said that. Sorry, Mr. Speaker."
Openly gay Democratic state Rep. Jeremy Moss said that Pscholka's remarks were obviously intended as a slur.
"It's a play on words, but everybody knows it's just a derogatory term to refer to gay people as fruits," Moss explained. "It was written on papers in front of him. He was reading them. He thought it was funny and gave a feigned apology (on the floor). This was a planned joke at the expense of gay people."
In a statement on Wednesday, Pscholka insisted that the remarks were intended "to be jocular, not derogatory."
"I apologize to anyone who was offended by my comments," the statement said. "It was truly not meant in a derogatory manner."
Listen to audio of Pscholka's remarks below.