By Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming’s Democratic Party on Monday demanded the resignation of a state senator criticized for her comments to a group of students.
As the state Senate promised a thorough investigation into the complaints lodged against Sen. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne, a leading House Republican noted that Hutchings has the right to express her opinion.
In a news release, Joe Barbuto, Democratic Party chairman, called for Hutchings to resign because of her comments made to Cheyenne Central High School students Feb. 1.
The 10 students, members of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, asked Hutchings to discuss House Bill 230, a bill that would prohibit employees from being fired because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. The bill died in the House.
Hutchings is alleged to have told the students: “If my sexual orientation was to have sex with all of the men in there and I had sex with all of the women in there and then they brought their children and I had sex with all of them and then brought their dogs in and I had sex with them, should I be protected for my sexual orientation?”
Wyoming Equality, an LGBTQ advocacy group, reported the students interpreted the comments to compare homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia.
Hutchings on Monday declined requests for an interview with Cowboy State Daily.
Barbuto called Hutchings’ comments, first reported by Wyoming Equality, “indefensible, insensitive and repugnant” and said her decision to share her thoughts with the high school students at the Legislature “shows a clear lack of good judgment.”
“Senate District 5 deserves a senator who they can trust to behave and speak in a manner that upholds the dignity of the office and reflects an understanding that every person deserves to be treated with respect,” he said. “Lynn Hutchings is now incapable of providing that level of representation. She must resign immediately.”
Wyoming Equality reported the incident in a letter to Senate President Drew Perkins, R-Casper. The group said the encounter so disturbed the high school students that they “quickly removed themselves from the Jonah Business Center to process this interaction and provide a supportive space for one another.”
Wyoming Equality said some of the students were “deeply hurt and disturbed.”
While no formal complaint had been filed as of Monday afternoon, the Senate’s Republican leadership pledged to look into the incident.
“In the coming days, we will continue through the process designed to properly vet and address complaints filed against members,” Perkins, Majority Floor Leader Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, and Senate Vice President Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, said in a joint news release. “Both Sen. Hutchings and these students deserve fair consideration and respect as we work to address this matter.”
However, asking for Hutchings’ resignation at this point is premature, said. Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, the House majority whip.
“Nobody’s heard from Sen. Hutchings in this regard,” he said. “If Sen. Hutchings comes out and gives a statement that she said those things, first of all, she’s got First Amendment rights. If she did say those things, I’d say it was not classy, but calling for her resignation is definitely premature.”
If the statements were made, an apology is in order, Lindholm said.
“If it’s true, I would definitely think an apology … should happen,” he said. “I think about my kids, if somebody said something like that to my kids, I wouldn’t be OK with that.”
But Nina Hebert, director of the Wyoming Democratic Party, said the party wants Hutchings’ resignation.
“It is the position of the Chairman Barbuto, as well as the Democratic Party, that Sen. Hutchings should bring whatever dignity she can back to the office she holds by immediately offering her resignation,” she said.