U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5) continues to draw fire from Democrats and Republicans across New Jersey for refusing to contribute to the National Republican Campaign Committee because of their refusal to turn away gay candidates. Garrett is pleading religious liberty, but some are calling for him to return funds he has accepted from pro-LGBT companies for his reelection campaign.
Long-time gay Republican and long-shot LD22 state assembly hopeful William H. Michelson of Plainfield told PolitickerNJ that he doesn’t like Garrett’s chances, or theirs.
Do you think Congressman Garrett would have expected this kind of reaction to his comments?
There are a lot of older people who still have trouble believing that gay people exist. And maybe that’s where Congressman Garrett is coming from. If so, he deserves a rude awakening.
What is your opinion on the call for Garrett to return funds to his pro-gay backers?
That would be outrageous if it wasn’t comical. There has been a significant gay presence in the Republican Party for a long time. I ought to know because I founded the New Jersey chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans. I was their president for a few years, and that started in something like 1994. So this man is a dinosaur who doesn’t want to know what’s going on in the political world around him. I find his comment offensive but I find it hard to take seriously.
Garrett has been pretty roundly criticized for his remarks. Do you see much support for Garrett within the party?
Absolutely not. Everyone I’ve spoken to has been embarrassed that something like that would even be said in this day and age. The public is not going to take him very seriously and the other Republicans, people who are involved in the party, will disregard him as a relic of a past that we choose to forget.
Do you think it’s hypocritical for the congressman to demand that the party not accept gay candidates and then accept money from explicitly pro-gay organizations?
I can’t imagine anybody feeling that they were bound to follow his opinions to start with. It’s not going to have any effect at all on 99.9% of the Republicans. No, I don’t believe a single person is gonna follow up with him in any way. Everybody that knows about this just rejects it. If it wasn’t so sad it would be something to laugh about.
Have you seen any effort to politicize your personal life during your own campaign?
No. And I haven’t seen anything like that in 30 plus years. Lately it’s just a matter of gossip – ‘did you hear this crazy old coot said this.’ It’s not gonna get more significant than that. I lived for many years in Iowa and my Republican political career started there. There’s just a few old crazies that are left I guess. You don’t often see them in the Northeast. And that’s exactly why nobody is paying any attention. I have never seen any kind of anti-gay feeling in the Republican Party in New Jersey, and I’ve been involved for a long time.