The communications director for Salt Lake County's Republican Party got himself into a public relations nightmare.
Dave Robinson is the man in question who’s standing by his statements that there’s a link between suicide rates in LGBTQ people and promiscuity engaged by gay men.
According to the Hill, Robinson, who is gay himself, made this statement while in a meeting with the Salt Lake Tribune’s editorial board. After initially trying to show that the goals of Republicans and gay men are becoming more and more aligned, reporters asked for his thoughts on high suicide rates.
“It has more to do with the lifestyle that the gays are leading that they refuse to have any scrutiny with.”
He then added:
“You talk to some of these people that have had grundles of sex partners and the self-loathing and basically the unhappiness and the self-hatred level is tremendously high,” he said. “The gay community really needs to start having some conversations within their community, saying, how is our lifestyle affecting our mental health?”
After stating all this while in a meeting with a newspaper’s editorial board, it’s no surprise that it became a big headline from the company.
That said, Robinson unabashedly defended his statements after being contacted by the Salt Lake Tribune before the article was published.
“I stand by my position that multiple sexual partners leads to increased risk of STD and HIV, which affects one’s mental, physical and financial health, which leads to a higher risk of depression which leads to a higher risk of thoughts of suicide which leads to higher suicide rates,” Robinson said in an email.
Like vultures to a feast, many politicians, including some of Robinson’s peers within the Republican party, responded with criticism.
“I am angry that someone who purports to speak for Republicans has made such inappropriate, inaccurate and hurtful comments,” Salt Lake County Council Chairwoman Aimee Winder Newton said. “This has caused our LGBTQ friends heartache and has been counterproductive in our fight against suicide.”
Meanwhile, Scott Miller, the Chair for Salt Lake County Republican party, responded to the situation by apologizing in the following open letter:
To the fine citizens of Salt Lake County, the State of Utah and elsewhere,
On Tuesday August 22, 2018 an article was printed that was written by Taylor Stevens at The Salt Lake Tribune regarding statements made by Mr. Dave Robinson. I was in attendance at this meeting with the Editors where the intention was to introduce myself and the inclusive direction the Salt Lake County Republican Party is taking.
We spoke with the Editors for over an hour, discussing the many issues that face the residents of Salt Lake County. We discussed everything from land and water to suicide and transparency. My goal for this meeting was to convey my hope of inclusion for all communities within Salt Lake County.
During this meeting, the topic of the LGBTQ community arose in conversation and what that has to do with the Republican Party. Due to my personal experience regarding suicide, I made it very clear as a representative of the Salt Lake County Republican Party that I was very concerned about teen and adult suicides in Utah. Further, that we needed to address why the rates of suicide are several times greater in the LGBTQ community.
Dave Robinson, who is gay, told of conversations he has had with people from within the gay community. All of the opinions forwarded by Mr. Robinson were based on those conversations and were not necessarily his own views and were not presented as the position of the Salt Lake County Republican Party.
The subject of depression and suicide transcends all of our communities. I want to be very clear that the Salt Lake County Republican Party and our candidates do not agree that there is only one cause or solution to our local/national suicide concerns. We believe there are many factors surrounding these issues and we will continue to diligently seek solutions.
I apologize on behalf of the Salt Lake County Republican Party for any hurt or discomfort that this mischaracterization has caused. The tremendous outcry of both anger and support shows that these conversations are sorely needed.
Chairman Salt Lake County Republican Party
h/t: The Hill, Salt Lake City Tribune