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Amash, Upton call for Agema's RNC resignation

10:03 PM, Jan 21, 2014   |    comments
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Dave Agema

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Republican Congressman Justin Amash is joining other party members in calling for the resignation of Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema.

Agema has come under fire after posting anti gay and Muslim remarks on his Facebook page. Sunday, Betsy DeVos also called for Agema's resignation from the RNC.

RELATED: Snyder: "I appreciate Betsy DeVos speaking up" against Dave Agema 

Rep. Amash issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

"Defending civil liberties is at the heart of the Republican Party and our Constitution. As I've demonstrated with my words and record, I am trying to grow a new generation of Republicans that includes more gays and lesbians, racial-ethnic minorities, women, and young people.

"Dave's approach has become a distraction for those of us who are standing up to the political establishment, whose push for bigger government, more corporate welfare, and less individual liberty have hurt our party. I hope Dave will do the right thing for the next generation of conservatives and step down. And I hope that the politicians who are criticizing Dave will stand with me in protecting civil liberties with their votes and actions, not just their rhetoric."
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WASHINGTON (Detroit Free Press) -- The drumbeat of calls for Republican National Committee member Dave Agema to resign over controversial comments and postings made on Facebook got louder today, with the RNC set to meet in the nation's capital on Wednesday.

Three Republican members of the state's congressional delegation added their voices to those calling on Agema, a former state representative from Grandville, to step down after a string of Facebook postings and comments which have been described as anti-gay, anti-Muslim and intolerant.

"Those who seek to be leaders must strive to be inclusive and respectful of others," said U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, who called for Agema to resign in a news release this evening. "Dave Agema has failed this test and should resign."

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, also called on Agema to resign, just a day after he offered support for former state party chairwoman Elizabeth DeVos' doing so but declined to call for the resignation outright himself. U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, also told MLive Agema -- who he has praised for his service in the past -- should step down, though he did so only after his Republican primary challenger, businessman Brian Ellis, called Agema to resign earlier in the week.

Amash's office did not answer multiple requests from the Free Press last week regarding Agema's comments and the call by some for him to step down.

The Free Press reported Sunday on how national and state Republican leaders decried Agema's comments and how they could hurt a party looking to expand its base. However, top party leaders -- including Gov. Rick Snyder, state party chair Bobby Schostak and national party chair Reince Priebus -- have so far denounced the comments without specifically calling for his resignation.

In early December, Agema made remarks at a meeting suggesting gays manipulate the system to get free health benefits because they are dying of AIDS at a young age. He called it a "moral ... biblical issue." Then, this month, he re-posted on Facebook a defense of a Russian law widely denounced as anti-gay and a religious tract that asked "Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?"

Agema has not responded to numerous calls and emails from the Free Press.

Not everyone in the delegation has spoken out against Agema's remarks. The office of U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Howell, did not respond to a request for comment last week. Today, U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment going into Wednesday's RNC meeting.

Bentivolio's Republican primary opponent, David Trott, added his voice to the chorus calling for resignation, however.

"He believes Mr. Agema should resign," Trott's spokeswoman, Megan Piwowar said. "His comments are offensive and there is no place for bigotry in the Republican party."

Contact TODD SPANGLER at 703-854-8947 or at tspangler@freepress.com

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