Florida Republican state Rep. Mike Hill has been under growing pressure to apologize or resign after leaked audio revealed he had laughed when a constituent asked him if he could pass a Bible-based law to execute gay people.
Voters, his constituents, LGBT activists, his fellow lawmakers – even his fellow Republicans, including the Republican governor of Florida, his cabinet, and the Republican Speaker of the Florida House – have all condemned his behavior. There are calls for the Florida House to censure him.
Hill is not backing down.
Absent from much of the reporting is not only did Hill laugh when asked about a “kill the gays” law, he did not correct the man who suggested it. Not only did he not correct him, but Hill also said he believes being gay is a choice.
“It’s a behavior, and it’s a choice,” Hill told attendees at a meeting of Women for Responsible Legislation, rejecting the idea that LGBT people should be a protected class. “You can say, ‘But I was born that way.’ OK, well, fine, but nobody’s forcing you to engage in that relationship, even if you were born that way.”
Also absent from many reports is that Hill did not only laugh, he engaged in the anti-LGBT rhetoric, noting that killing gay people is called for “in the Old Testament.”
Hill has pushed back, calling criticism of his behavior a “social media lynching.”
Now, through a right wing talk radio host, Hill has issued a statement, as the Tampa Bay Times reports. That statement was not posted to his social media accounts or to his website.
The statement is not an apology.
It begins with him calling himself a “Bible believing Christian.”
He goes on to explain that “one man I had never met said the Bible in 1 Corinthians calls for a man having an affair with another man to be put to death.”
Hill then corrects the constituent’s misreading of the Bible verse.
“If the man was referring to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, that text says nothing about anyone being put to death. It simply states people who practice various sins will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
And then he apologizes – for not pointing out the man’s inaccurate quote.
“I apologize for not directly responding to the fact that the premise for this question was inaccurate,” Hill writes. “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.”
Here’s the statement:
FL State Rep. @MikeHillFL just released this statement/apology about the accusations that he entertained an outrageous comment from a man calling for legislation to execute gay people.
You're the first to see it. pic.twitter.com/3zToRnh3xA
— Burnie Thompson Show®️ (@burniethompson) June 4, 2019
Wednesday morning Hill did post to his Twitter account an opinion piece published in a far right wing website. It’s titled, “Florida Rep. Mike Hill vs. the gay establishment,” which is astonishingly misleading, given all who have denounced his behavior.
Trump administration quietly guts COVID-19 paid leave provision that already excluded 75 percent of workers
The Trump administration has quietly issued new guidance that will exempt many small businesses from having to provide some workers with paid leave during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Labor issued a temporary rule Wednesday that effectively exempted businesses with fewer than 50 workers from being required to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for workers whose children are suddenly at home from school or child care under the coronavirus stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Trump is deploying national guardsman to provide pandemic support without any health benefits: report
The National Guard are an essential part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and thousands of them have potentially been exposed to infected civilians, making it a particularly dangerous and important time to serve.
But according to The Daily Beast, the guard has been deployed in a way that prevents them from being eligible for the military's health care system.
"The approximately 20,000 guardsmen who have been called up to help states around the country deal with the spread of the coronavirus are federalized on what’s called Title 32 status, which puts them in command of their various state governors but with the federal government paying costs," wrote senior national security correspondent Spencer Ackerman. "But according to the National Guard’s advocates and the U.S. governors’ association, the guardsmen are activated on orders that last 30 days. That puts them one single day shy of the requirement allowing the military health insurance system known as TRICARE — think of it as Medicare For All In Uniform — to cover them."
Vaccine researchers grew ‘alarmed’ as Trump’s CDC wasted weeks of their time with a flawed coronavirus test: report
According to a report from the Washington Post, in the early days as health officials became concerned about the possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic blossoming out of China, researchers sat and wasted days they could have used to start developing a vaccine because they were assured by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that a testing kit was on its way.
As it turned out, that test was flawed.
Relying on emails and interviews, the Post is reporting, "On a Jan. 15 conference call, a leading scientist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured local and state public health officials from across the nation that there would soon be a test to detect a mysterious virus spreading from China. Stephen Lindstrom told them the threat was remote and they may not need the test his team was developing 'unless the scope gets much larger than we anticipate,' according to an email summarizing the call."