Wyoming Republican state Sen. Lynn Hutchings is facing calls to resign after allegedly making comments earlier this month to a group of high school students comparing homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia.
On Feb. 1, Wyoming Equality, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, arranged to have a Gay-Straight Alliance student group head to the state capital Cheyenne to meet with state legislators. The students intended to tell the lawmakers why they should support HB 230, a state bill that would ban workplace discrimination against LGBTQ people.
During their visit, the Cheyenne Central High School students asked to speak to Hutchings, their representative in the state Senate. The meeting, however, did not go as planned, according to a complaint sent by Wyoming Equality to Drew Perkins, the Republican president of the Wyoming State Senate.
“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?”
Hutchings “came out to the gallery to meet the students,” the letter said. “Hutchings said she was unfamiliar with the bill’s language, so the students shared that they wanted her support because the bill would protect the students from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Then, according to the letter, Hutchings said: “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?”
The students tried to correct Hutchings, the letter continued, “only to be rebuffed by Sen. Hutchings' repeated interruptions.” Hutchings then allegedly attempted to fist-bump the students before leaving.
Wyoming Equality said some of the students were "hurt and disturbed."
“The students’ sentiment was exacerbated especially after Sen. Hutchings hypothetically recounted the idea of sexually engaging with children, then physically engaged with the students.”
In a statement released Tuesday, Hutchings disputed Wyoming Equality's account of the interaction. "I at no time compared homosexuality with bestiality or pedophilia. That never happened," she wrote.
"I made an attempt to best engage several of them by asking four rhetorical questions," Hutchings said. "My questions to them were intended to highlight the vagueness and subjectivity of the term 'sexual orientation' and how it can be defined in so many ways. After spending more time with them than I expected, we cordially parted company with fist bumps all around.“
Wyoming Equality, which sponsored the high school gathering in the capital, said the students’ meetings with other legislators that day were civil and respectful.
Joe Barbuto, chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party, called for Hutchings, a first-term senator who ran unopposed, to resign.
Perkins and two other Republican leaders in the Wyoming Senate released a statement saying "all Wyoming citizens are welcome here."
"We need to hear from you. We are blessed to have a citizen legislature in Wyoming, and that means the voices of every single person should be heard and considered," the GOP lawmakers wrote. “In the coming days, we will continue through the process designed to properly vet and address complaints filed against members. Both Sen. Hutchings and these students deserve fair consideration and respect as we work to address this matter.”
The Republican lawmakers promised that their inquiry into the matter would be a “confidential” process.