Politics

Mass. Republican Party vice chair condemns committeewoman’s anti-gay remarks as party chair remains silent

"What she did was wrong. It was immoral."

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The vice chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party is speaking out against anti-gay comments made by a state committee member concerning a Republican Congressional candidate’s decision to adopt children with his husband.

MassGOP Vice Chair Tom Mountain told NBC 10 Boston’s Alison King he informed Debbie Martell, the state party committeewoman, she must resign.

“‘It’s over, goodbye,'” Mountain said he told her.

“What she did was wrong. It was immoral,” Mountain added. “We don’t have any room in the party for such things. And I’m not going to put up with it.”

Martell said repeatedly in emails that she is “sickened” by the fact Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette, who is running for the Second Congressional District seat, and his husband adopted two children.

“I heard he was a ‘married’ homosexual man, who adopted children,” Martell wrote in a May 15 email, obtained by The Boston Globe, to Republican colleagues. “I was sickened to hear this.”

Sossa-Paquette, of Shrewsbury, told the Globe Martell also repeated the remarks to him directly when he confronted her about the email.

Several other Republican leaders, including Gov. Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Gov. Karyn Politio, have denounced Martell’s statements and called for her resignation.

But the state party’s chairman, Jim Lyons, continued to remain silent on the matter as of Wednesday. Lyons did not respond to an email from Boston.com Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Sossa-Paquette told NBC 10 Boston after several attempts to contact Lyons about the matter, Lyons told him he didn’t want to get involved.

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“His answer to me was he wasn’t going to get involved in inter-party politics,” Sossa-Paquette said. “And I said inter-party politics? You’re the chairman of the MassGOP. Are you not supposed to be running the party?”

With Lyons publicly absent on the issue, Mountain told the news station he needed to speak out.

“Since no message was forthcoming, then the vice chair has to step in and fill the void and, quite frankly, do the right thing,” Mountain said.

When King asked if Mountain spoke with Lyons on the issue, Mountain said he had not.

“He never returns my calls, and I am the vice chair,” Mountain said.

The rift casts light on a growing divide in the party — one that has amounted to some calling to primary Baker if he decides to run for a third term, which Mountain confirmed to the news station.

Mountain said he doesn’t want it to happen, adding that if Baker decides to run again but doesn’t make it to the ballot, the party will lose the governor’s office.

Still, Lyons was re-elected as party chairman earlier this year for a two-year term.

According to NBC 10 Boston, under Lyons’ tenure, however, the party’s cash has dwindled and Republicans have lost seats in the state Legislature.

Mountain, when asked if Lyons still has the party’s confidence, said: “Well, we’ll see.”

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