grasping at straws

Lawmaker caught on tape laughing about killing gays says he’s the victim of a “social media lynching”

Mike Hill talking to press

Things aren’t looking so good for Republican Florida state Rep. Mike Hill, and his desperation is starting to show.

Over the weekend, audio of Hill making the homophobic comments during a forum held by the group Women for Responsible Legislation leaked online.

In the recording, the 61-year-old lawmaker is heard saying being gay is a choice and therefore unworthy of protections in the Civil Rights Act, like those for race and gender.

“My fundamental problem with that is someone’s sexual orientation or ‘proclivity’ to want to do something…that is your business,” he says. “And it’s a choice. You say ‘I was born that way.’ Fine. Nobody’s forcing you to engage in that relationship, even if you were born that way.”

“What you do is a behavior and a choice that you have, as opposed to you can’t help your sex, your race, your nationality.”

When a man in the crowd calls for legislation to fulfill the Biblical “prescription” to put gay people to death, Hill laughs then quips: “I wonder how that would go over.”

Hill’s comments have been denounced by both Democrats and Republicans alike.

Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva and House Rules Chairman Chris Sprowls, who are both Republicans, released a joint statement this week denouncing their colleague.

“Such callous indifference to an outrageous question is unacceptable, runs contrary to our founding principles, and in no way reflects the beliefs of the Republican caucus in the Florida House.”

While they stopped short of calling on Hill to resign, Oliva did say he “owes his colleagues an apology and he owes the Republican caucus a better example of political courage.”

Meanwhile, more than 75 people gathered in downtown Pensacola yesterday evening to stage a protest over Hill’s remarks, waving signs calling on Hill to resign and chanting, “The murder of gays is no laughing matter!”

Leading the march was Rodney Jones, president of the NAACP Pensacola branch, who told the crowd, “We all live together as human beings, and for an individual to think that it is funny that one individual within our community is executed or killed is ignorant themselves.”

“And they have no place in leadership. They have no right to be there because he feels that way about one person who lives in my community, he feels the same way about me.”

Meanwhile, Hill continues to dig in his heels, accusing those against him of a conducing “social media lynching” against him.

He followed that up with another tweet this morning that included a link to an article on the right-wing propaganda site American Thinker about how the “LGBT lobby” has “manufactured outrage” in an effort to bring down Florida’s only two Black republican legislators.

Then yesterday, Hill hit his local media circuit, appearing on two different Pensacola radio stations to call the whole situation “absurd” and to claim the recording of him laughing about killing gay people had been “taken out of context.”

Audio of Hill’s full homophobic remarks continues to circulate around the internet. You can listen for yourself here.

As we stated yesterday, it sure doesn’t sound like he was taken at all out of context.

Related: Leaked audio: GOP Rep laughs about executing queers after explaining being gay is a choice