Did Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder single out a fellow Republican during Thursday's State of the State speech for his anti-gay and anti-Muslim remarks?
Days before Snyder's speech, former Rep. Dave Agema, a member of the Republican National Committee, posted an article on Facebook cheering on Russia's anti-gay propaganda law, which targets gay people and violates their human rights. He also shared writing on Facebook that included the question, "Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?"
"In recent days and recent months in the state of Michigan, we've had people make comments that were derogatory, that were negative towards other people," Snyder said during the speech (see video above). "And publicly tonight, I'd like to make the call to all citizens in Michigan, to ask us to have a greater degree of civility and respect towards others of different backgrounds and different views. The future of Michigan is dependent on having people understand that differences are a positive power, that we can find common ground. Let's work to bring Michiganders together, not divide us."
Many assumed that Agema, who will serve as an RNC committeeman until 2016, had earned himself a personalized rebuke.
Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel told the Detroit News that the comment was aimed at Agema “and everyone who exhibits discriminatory behavior and talk.”
But when the Macomb (Mich.) Daily asked Snyder about the speech during an interview, Snyder didn't name Agema as the reason for his remarks.
"I leave it to the people to make their own determinations," Snyder told the Macomb Daily. "I made my statement, I stand by it, I'm proud of it. We need to work on it (tolerance) -- let's get better on civility and respect."
Snyder has condemned statements made by Agema before, although never during such a high-profile speech. In December, after Agema said that gays want "free medical because they're dying," Snyder's spokeswoman told MLive that the governor "feels comments like that are unfortunate, discriminatory and that we can and must do better and make sure everyone is treated with respect and dignity."
Some House Democrats in Michigan have called on Snyder to clearly denounce Agema's remarks.
“As the only Muslim in the Michigan Legislature, I am deeply offended by my former colleague’s bigoted comments,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) said in a release. “He may have the freedom to say what he wants, but the Republican Party and Gov. Snyder have an obligation to the citizens of this state to renounce the hate expressed in his comments. Their continued silence only furthers discrimination against those of Muslim faith in Michigan."