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The chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party on Friday refused to condemn or ask for the resignation of a GOP leader who said she was “sickened” by an openly gay congressional candidate adopting children with his husband.
In an email to other members of the state GOP, Deborah Martell, who is a member of the 80-person state GOP committee, said she was “sickened” by congressional candidate Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette.
“I heard he was a ‘married’ homosexual man, who adopted children. I was sickened to hear this,” Martell wrote in a May 15 e-mail, according to the Boston Globe.
Martell did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment Saturday.
Sossa-Paquette, a Republican running for Massachusetts’ 2nd Congressional District, has two children, aged 19 and 10, with his husband Julian, according to NBC Boston.
When Sossa-Paquette confronted Martell about the email days later, she doubled down in an email also obtained by the Boston Globe.
“I am a Catholic who loves God and His Ten Commandments,” she wrote to Sossa-Paquette on May 19, according to the report. “I wish the best for every person in the world, including you! What sickened me was that you adopted children.
“Children deserve a mom and a dad. That’s how God designed marriage and the family,” she continued.
Sossa-Paquette said he reached out to Jim Lyons, the chairman of the state GOP, to ask him to condemn Martell’s comments but said Lyons told him he wouldn’t “get involved in inter-party politics,” according to NBC Boston.
In a statement to Insider, Sossa-Paquette said he was “overwhelmed by the support” he and his family had received since Martell’s comments surfaced.
“The views of Ms. Martell are clearly on the fringe,” Sossa-Paquette said. “But, they have no place in a party that hopes to win elections, especially in Massachusetts.”
Sossa-Paquette said the party should take action against Martell to “leave no doubt that it rejects bigotry.”
“This isn’t about me,” he continued. “I’ve dealt with this stuff my entire adult life. It’s about a party that must leave no doubt that it rejects bigotry in all forms and respects the rights of all. If the leadership of the Massachusetts GOP wants the party to grow and succeed, they will ask Ms. Martell to take her personal views elsewhere. That’s what leaders do.”
According to the Globe, 29 of 30 Republicans in the state House of Representatives had on Friday called in a letter for Lyons to condemn Martell and ask for her resignation or resign himself. Lyons refused, instead imploring members of his own party in a statement to stand up to “censorship” and “cancel culture.”
“Members of the Massachusetts House Republican caucus are demanding that I force a woman of deep Catholic faith to resign from the Massachusetts Republican State Committee,” Lyons said in a statement. “I acknowledge that she wrote in a manner that was offensive. However, Massachusetts Republican Party bylaws are clear: freedom of speech and religious liberty are values that are unbending and uncompromising.”
He continued: “In the end, we must realize that the danger to our freedoms is real. We as Republicans must not act as the far-left wants us to.”
Martell likewise has refused calls for her resignation, which have come from across the state, including from GOP Gov. Charlie Baker and GOP Vice Chairman Tom Mountain, according to the Globe. Martell has made no public statement since the outlet first reported about the email on June 1.
The Massachusetts GOP did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment Saturday.