Republican John Mandt has resigned from the West Virginia House of Delegates after screenshots of messages appeared to show him using anti-gay slurs and speculating about the sexuality of other elected representatives.
Mandt, 57, tendered his resignation in a letter sent Saturday night (October 3) to House of Delegates speaker Roger Hanshaw, after the screenshots circulated on social media. He claims the images are a fabrication.
In the screenshots, Mandt appears to use anti-gay slurs and speculates whether other members of the Republican party might be secretly gay.
“Silly f****ts, D***s are for Chicks!!” read one message, seemingly disparaging other Republicans for being “sponsors of a queer bill”. This is an apparent reference to the Fairness Act, which sought to introduce anti-discrimination measure to protect LGBT+ workers in the state.
He also appears to suggest another Republican might be bisexual because “he can be a little feminine” and that a third member of his party was a “hostage to the left” because he was afraid they would “expose his homosexuality”. The screenshots also feature anti-Muslim slurs.
The alleged leak sparked significant backlash on social media, with many sharing screenshots of the conversation and urging voters to contact Mandt to express their outrage.
John Mandt has previously ‘disparaged the LGBT+ community’.
Mandt was roundly criticised by Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia, an LGBT+ rights organisation.
“These screenshots of Del. John Mandt’s comments embarrass our state and hurt the reputation of the office he holds,” Schneider said in a statement.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Del. Mandt disparage the LGBTQ community. In 2019, when Del. Eric Porterfield hinted he would drown his own kids if they turn out to be gay, Mandt was one of the few delegates to offer support for him,” Schneider continued.
“Mandt called Porterfield a ‘great guy,’ even though everyone else condemned the comments and tried to distance themselves from Porterfield. Not long after Porterfield called LGBTQ people the ‘modern-day version of the Ku Klux Klan,’ Mandt called us the ‘alphabet hate group’.”
Schneider said Mandt’s anti-LGBT+ views have “clearly affected how he represented the people of his district”.
He added: “John Mandt has finally shown us who he really is. It’s time for us to show him who West Virginians really are.”
Mandt, who has claimed that the messages were fabricated, resigned on in a letter in which he said he wanted to focus on his family and business.
House speaker Roger Hanshaw condemned the comments in a statement released Saturday (3 October), according to West Virginia Metro News.
“While delegate Mandt denies having made [the comments], I want to be very clear: I strongly condemn these comments and this type of rhetoric.
“I don’t care who said it – it’s wrong and I want everyone to know there is no place for hatred or bigotry in our state, our political discourse or the West Virginia House of Delegates.”