Randy Boehning has been one of the biggest opponents of a gay rights bill in North Dakota, but now the Republican lawmaker has been caught up in a gay scandal of his own.
The 52-year-old Republican was caught sending an explicit photo of himself to another man using the gay dating app Grindr. Boehning said the information was released as retribution for his opposition to a bill that would have granted gays legal protections against discrimination.
Randy Boehning has admitted to sending the photo of his penis and using Grindr under the name “Top Man!,” but he said he doesn’t view it as a lapse in judgment.
“That’s what gay guys do on gay sites, don’t they?” Boehning told The Forum. “That’s how things happen on Grindr. It’s a gay chat site. It’s not the first thing you do on that site. That’s what we do, exchange pics on the site.”
But Dustin Smith, the 21-year-old who received the photos, said he believes Randy Boehning is being a hypocrite for standing in the way of gay rights.
“How can you discriminate against the person you’re trying to pick up?” Smith said in a recent interview.
Randy Boehning said he was given a heads up that another lawmaker was threatening him to release the information, though Boehning wouldn’t say who made the threat. Smith claims that he discovered Boehning’s identity after looking at the legislator’s photo, and he wasn’t prompted by anyone in the legislature.
Boehning’s outing comes at a time when views on gay rights and gay marriage seem to be shifting, especially within the Republican Party. Support for same-sex marriage has risen steadily nationwide, and many GOP members have gradually backed off their opposition.
Many Republicans acknowledge that they must shift their own views on the topic in order to remain in touch with voters, especially younger ones.
“In one decade, what’s shocking on TV is accepted as commonplace in the other,” Representative Jack Kingston, a Republican from Georgia, told Politico back in 2012. “It’s the same with sexual mores all over that if you look at campuses and universities, they have a lot of gay pride clubs and so there has been a deliberate and effective outreach to the younger generation about being more accepting of same-sex relationships.”
Randy Boehning, who is unmarried, said he feels a weight off his back now that he has been outed. He remains opposed to the bill, but said it was mainly with language that protects anyone “perceived” to be gay. Boehning said he could vote for the bill if the wording is fixed.
[Image via NextStories]