Marston apologizes for anti-LGBTQ remark

Monitor staff
Published: 3/6/2021 7:59:09 AM

A Manchester Republican who referred to LGBTQ people as having a “deviant sexuality” in a hearing last week has apologized, saying he had taken time for reflection and was on a “path to redemption.”

“During the executive session on HB 238, I used inappropriate language when referencing the LGBTQ+ community,” Rep. Dick Marston wrote. “It was never my intention to offend anyone. Due to my lack of education on this subject, I hurt a lot of people including members of the legislative body and members of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.”

Marston, a Manchester Republican, made the derogatory comments, near the end of eight hours of hearings and voting by the Criminal Justice committee.

The committee was about to vote on whether to recommend House Bill 238, which would ban the “gay panic defense.” The bill would bar defendants in manslaughter cases from using a victim’s sexuality or gender identity as a way to explain their behavior and diminish their punishment.

Some Republicans said the prohibition was unnecessary because juries could strike down those attempted defenses on their own.

During his remarks, Marston called the bill a “carve out” for the LGBTQ community.

“We’re all the same breed. We’re all the same people. If you kill somebody you should be charged for murder, and you should be tried on it, and there’s no way in heck that you’re going to be able to say ‘Well because he or she was some deviant sexuality that I’m not–,’ ” he said, before being cut off by Chairman Daryl Abbas, a Salem Republican.

The comments prompted Abbas to abruptly close the meeting, and set off a firestorm of outrage online. Marston did not show up for a Criminal Justice meeting on Wednesday; a spokeswoman for the Speaker’s office said he had not been removed.

In his apology – his first public comments since the outburst – Marston said that he was working on improving his understanding and listening to the people he had hurt.

“I share everyone’s disappointment that it took this unfortunate incident for me to improve myself,” he said. “I come from a generation where my comments were accepted by society. However, just because I am in my 80s is no excuse to justify my comments. Rather, it is a reminder of the progress our society has made. I am sorry I was late in joining the rest of you who already made that progress.”

A spokeswoman for the Speaker’s office, Jennifer Tramp, did not immediately answer whether Marston would remain on his committee given his apology.

On Thursday, Packard announced the formation of a “Speaker’s Advisory Group,” a group of six lawmakers split among both parties that will help review complaints against lawmakers and present reports to the Speaker.

Meanwhile, HB 238, the anti-“gay panic defense bill” is not moving forward for now; the Criminal Justice committee voted to retain the bill on Wednesday, which will keep the legislation in the committee until 2022.

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at 369-3307, edewitt@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)




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