Ark. GOP chair defends raising lawmaker’s sexuality

Posted on 02 Jun 2009 at 4:38pm
By Andrew DeMillo Associated Press

Doyle Webb calls state Rep. Kathy Webb ‘fine Christian person’

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Republican Party’s chairman on Monday, June 1 defended raising a lesbian lawmaker’s sexuality as an issue, but also praised her as "admirable" and a "very fine Christian person."

At a joint appearance with the Democratic Party’s chairman, Doyle Webb faced questions over why he’s brought up the fact that state Rep. Kathy Webb is a lesbian at events while he’s criticized Democrats.

Doyle Webb said Kathy Webb, a Democrat from Little Rock who is vice chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee, could use her position to try to repeal an initiated act banning unmarried couples from adopting or fostering children.

"It is my belief that if she is elevated to the position of co-chairman of joint budget, she could use that influence to support positions that Republicans and conservatives are opposed to," the GOP chairman said at the Political Animals Club luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion.

Doyle Webb compared bringing up the lawmaker’s sexuality to newspaper reports that mention the fact that Kathy Webb is the first openly gay person serving in the state Legislature. The two Webbs are not related.

"I certainly didn’t think it was anything inappropriate," he said.

The GOP chairman, however, also offered some praise for the Democratic lawmaker.

"She seems to me to be a very admirable public servant that represents the people of her district very well and a very fine Christian person," Doyle Webb said.

Democratic Party Chairman Todd Turner praised Kathy Webb and said that he hoped that the personal lives of lawmakers would not be an issue in the coming election.

"I hope we will judge them by the work that they do for the people of this state," Turner said.

At the start of the luncheon, Kathy Webb was asked to stand up so she could be introduced to the GOP chairman. She said afterward that she planned to have coffee soon with Doyle Webb to talk about his comments.

"I’m sorry the whole thing has come up in the first place, because I don’t think it’s relevant and I don’t like attack politics in this way, things that are divisive," she said. "I don’t think it’s been helpful to the issues debate."

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