Wyoming state senator denies comparing homosexuality to bestiality, pedophilia during meeting with LGBT youth

Wyoming state Sen. Lynn Hutchings (R) on Tuesday denied comparing homosexuality to bestiality or pedophilia during a meeting with LGBTQ youth earlier this month.

Hutchings has faced calls to resign after LGBTQ civil rights group Wyoming Equality made a complaint against her, The Casper Star Tribune reported.

The Republican from Cheyenne denied the allegations and said that her attempts to open a dialogue had not gone as intended.

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“It is unfortunate, but I now recognize that my attempts at meaningful dialogue on this specific issue did not come across as I intended,” Hutchings said in Tuesday’s statement. “I believe I treated these students kindly. I want to make it clear that my conversation was not intended to demean these students. I at no time compared homosexuality with bestiality or pedophilia. That never happened.”

The complaint stems from a Feb. 1 meeting between Hutchings and students from Cheyenne Central High School's Gay-Straight Alliance as part of Wyoming Equality's biannual GSA Civics Day. Students from across the state spent the day at the Wyoming Supreme Court and Wyoming Legislature to learn about state government. 

A group of students met with Hutchings, their district representative, and brought up the proposed Wyoming House Bill 230. The bill would have given workplace protections to members of the LGBTQ community but failed to be voted on in time in the state’s legislature, the newspaper reported.

Wyoming Equality, the civil rights group, quoted the state senator as having questioned in the meeting whether sex with dogs or children would be protected sexual orientations.

“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 quoted Hutchings as saying.

Wyoming Equality said the students then “sought to clarify the bill’s intent only to be rebuffed by Senator Hutchings’ repeated interruptions. As the conversation came to a close, Senator Hutchings then motioned to fist bump the students and embraced one of them.”

“It was really upsetting to think that she legitimately equates who I am to people who are pedophiles or commit bestiality,” an unnamed student, 15, told the news site WyoFile.

The first-term senator and former state House lawmaker, however, has maintained her version of events and said the incident was “a fabricated and one-sided story.”

Hutchings, who is black, said in a statement that she has been attacked by “those same individuals demanding an apology, respect and tolerance,” including “racial slurs, character assassination, profanity and threats.”

The statement did not specify who had attacked Hutchings.

“I will always guard a person’s ability to freely make choices regarding their lives,” the Hutchings statement said.

“I respect the rights of everyone to make choices freely. However, with this freedom comes the responsibility to tolerate those with different views and opinions. That is especially true in the legislature, which must be a place where we come together to debate real-life ideas, some we agree with, some we do not," the statement said. "For all of us, including myself, this situation provides a learning opportunity for us to find better ways discuss to these issues in a respectful manner, while also extending grace to one another when we say things inartfully.

“The business community however; should be outraged, as this will only continue to bring negative and unjustified attention to Wyoming as another untruth is spread across the country.”

The Wyoming Democratic Party called for Hutchings to resign on Monday, condemning her remarks as “indefensible, insensitive and repugnant.” 

The Star-Tribune noted that Hutchings has made controversial comments about the LGBTQ community in the past.

During a debate on domestic partnership legislation in 2013, she said being gay was harmful to the mind, spirit and body and cited the number of AIDS cases.

Hutchings also argued that discrimination faced by the LGBTQ community could not be compared to the discrimination faced by African-Americans.

“It is inborn,” she said in 2013. “Science does not evidence a genetic involvement to homosexuality. It is but a choice. Being black is involuntary, it is not a choice. Homosexuals may choose who they want to be.”