NH blogger apologizes for anti-gay slur
A conservative radio talk show host’s anti-gay slur against one of New Hampshire’s major political power players has unleashed a firestorm of criticism in the Granite State.
Doug Lambert extended 50th birthday greetings to openly gay state Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley by calling him a "faggot" during a live Web stream after he finished his weekly show "Meet the New Press" on WEMJ in Laconia on Nov. 14. After Lambert uttered the slur, co-host Skip Murphy suggested they close the live feed but, instead, Lambert turned to the Web cam, made dance-like movements meant to mimic the way gay men walk, and said, "Yeah, you faggot. That’s right. I said it and I meant it. You are a reprobate. How the people, the Democrats-I think of some of the gray-haired ladies from the old party-would stand behind you is beyond me. You are a disgrace to yourself, to humanity, to mankind and to your party."
"Other than that, happy birthday, Ray, and many more-not," he added before someone pulled the plug.
Buckley, who is the only openly gay person in the country to head a state political party, represented South Manchester in the state House of Representatives for eight terms; he was also the Democratic whip. Buckley is now president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs and a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Despite a subsequent apology, Lambert quickly suffered the consequences of his remarks. WEMJ management fired him. He also resigned as a Belknap County campaign co-chair for Republican Congressional candidate and outgoing Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta.
Republicans across the state quickly distanced themselves from Lambert.
"This is inappropriate and offensive," Ryan Williams, spokesperson for the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, stated. "We strongly condemn the use of such vulgar language and personal attacks."
Other state GOP lawmakers agreed.
"I think he’s finally slit his own throat," state Rep. Francine Wendelboe [R-New Hampton] said. "I don’t necessarily agree with Ray’s lifestyle but this kind of name-calling has no place" in the public discourse."
The Laconia Citizen reported the two Republicans who were guests on Lambert’s Nov. 14 program also quickly condemned the remarks.
U.S. Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne said "there’s no place in politics or anywhere else" for Lambert’s language, and he added, "I reject them categorically and unequivocally." State Sen. Jeb Bradley [R-Wolfeboro] called Lambert’s comments "harmful and unfortunate." He added he feels they were "completely inappropriate and hurtful."
Lambert attempted to atone for the remarks on his blog.
"To be blunt, what I said is something that never should have been said in any kind of a public setting, or, quite frankly, in a private one either," he wrote. "Being human and an honest person that is used to freely speaking my mind, my passion got the best of me. I would like to apologize to Ray Buckley and those whom I may have offended for my unfortunate remarks following this morning’s program. There is no excuse for the tone or language I used to characterize Ray or anyone for that matter."
The horse, however, was out of the barn. Democrats and LGBT activists quickly made political hay out of the incident.
They blamed John H. Sununu, chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party, for creating what they concluded is the toxic atmosphere where Lambert and other right-wingers thrive. Sununu is a former governor who was aslo former President George H. W. Bush’s chief of staff. His son John E. Sununu lost his U.S. Senate re-election bid last November to former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.
Mo Baxley, executive director of the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition castigated both Lambert and Sununu during a press conference at the State House in Concord on Nov. 16. Baxley told assembled news media in a statement she later provided EDGE she feels Sununu’s silence about "these hateful slurs is deafening." The elder Sununu has yet to publicly comment.
"But his silence comes as no surprise," she added. "Over the past few months, he has crisscrossed the state using rhetoric not dissimilar from the hateful things Lambert said on his show."
Baxley accused Sununu of constantly railing against gay and lesbian families.
"He has described marriage equality as garbage, called on Governor [John] Lynch to ’veto the garbage,’ and accused Democrats of trying to impose a San Francisco agenda on New Hampshire dozens of times." she continued. "Make no mistake, Sununu’s repeated claims that equal rights for everyone would ruin [the state] is just coded language. And the sentiment he seeks to foster is no different from the politics of hate and fear expressed by Lambert on his show this past Saturday."
Baxley accused Sununu of marginalizing LGBT Granite Staters "by using hurtful rhetoric, and should stand against such discrimination."
State Reps. Ed Butler [D-Harts Location] and Robert Thompson [D-Manchester] stood alongside Baxley at the press conference. Baxley emphasized to EDGE the legislators attended as private citizens; not as representatives of their respective districts.
"As citizens they were outraged," she said.
One national LGBT organization also weighed in.
"On the one side you’ve got pretty courageous people like Chairman Buckley who are willing to serve in leadership roles openly and honestly," Denis Dison, external affairs vice president at the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute, told EDGE in an e-mail. "On the other you’ve got people like Doug Lambert with megaphones and the intellectual capacity of your average third grader. Still, the more we hear from the folks with megaphones, the clearer it becomes just how small they are."
The Laconia Citizen reported Buckley said he feels really didn’t think Lambert’s remarks "were about me" but they describe the attitude of many members of the Republican Party. Buckley made the comment during a meeting of Belknap County Democrats in Gilford on Nov. 15.
Baxley further speculated she felt Buckley likely wouldn’t dignify Lambert’s comments with any additional public statements. A spokesperson for the state’s Democratic Party told EDGE Buckley was unavailable for comment.