Jim Lyons Rejects Republican ‘Cancel Culture,’ Refuses To Call On GOP State Committee Member To Resign

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2021/06/05/jim-lyons-rejects-republican-cancel-culture-refuses-to-call-on-gop-state-committee-member-to-resign/

Republican members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives gave party chairman Jim Lyons an ultimatum:  condemn a conservative state GOP committee member for expressing a conservative point of view or resign.

Lyons addressed the topic in a statement late Friday night, acknowledging the clamor but rejecting what he called “all forms of censorship, and especially the ‘cancel culture’ mentality that exists today.”

The statement comes amid an explosion in the Massachusetts Republican Party stemming from email messages state committeewoman Debbie Martell of Ludlow sent expressing disapproval of the adoption of two children by a homosexual Republican Congressional candidate in central Massachusetts and his civil-law spouse.

Martell told the candidate, Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette, by email that she was “sickened” by the adoptions, according to The Boston Globe, because “Children deserve a mom and a dad. That’s how God designed marriage and the family.”

In the written statement Friday night, Lyons said of Martell:


I acknowledge that she wrote in a manner that was offensive. However, Massachusetts Republican Party bylaws are clear:  freedom of speech and religious liberty are values that are unbending and uncompromising.

My hope is that both individuals involved in this controversy can and will unite behind our shared values. My hope is that both individuals respect the fact that not everybody holds the same views, as each individual’s faith affects and shapes their beliefs. Not everybody views the world through the same lens.

We must respect both those who hold strong religious convictions, and we must respect those whose real-life experiences happen to contrast.


Earlier on Friday, The Boston Globe reported that 29 of the 30 Republican members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives signed a letter calling on Lyons to condemn Martell and demand her resignation from the state committee or resign as chairman himself.

“If you will not assert your position as the leader of this esteemed party and demand Ms. [Martell’s] resignation, then we call on you to resign as the Chair of the Party and allow for your replacement,” the letter said, according to the Globe. “If you are unprepared or unwilling to call for the resignation of Ms. [Martell], then it gives the appearance that you, and by extension, the Massachusetts Republican Party, are tolerant of these beliefs and actions. As a collective, we legislators are not.”

Sossa-Paquette made a video bringing attention to Martell’s comments earlier this week in which he also attacked two pro-family-values organizations — the Massachusetts Family Institute and Renew Massachusetts Coalition — as bigots and extremists.

Late Friday night, after Lyons released his statement, Sossa-Paquette posted on his campaign Facebook page what he represented as the text of two email messages by Martell.

One email message, dated May 15, expresses dismay that a conservative group in western Massachusetts had invited Sossa-Paquette to a fund raiser. “I heard he was a ‘married’ homosexual man, who adopted children. I was sickened to hear this …” Martell’s email message states.

It goes on to express hope that a conservative will run for the GOP nomination in the Second Congressional District instead. She says in the email message that she had contacted the Massachusetts Family Institute and Renew Massachusetts Coalition about trying to recruit a conservative candidate, but that she had not yet heard back.

Another email message from Martell, dated May 19, is a response from Martell to an email message Sossa-Paquette sent her with the subject line “It’s time for me to address the Bigot Debbie Martell.”

In the response to that message, Martell wrote:


Good morning Jeffrey,

I am a Catholic who loves God and His Ten Commandments. I wish the best for every person in the world, including you! What sickened me was that you adopted children. All children deserve a mom and a dad at that’s probably why you had great difficulty adopting them.

If you are going to quote me, please quote me correctly. I wrote, ” I heard he was a “married” homosexual man, who adopted children.” That’s what sickened me. Children deserve a mom and a dad. That’s how God designed marriage and the family.

I wish all the best for you!


Debbie Martell


Sossa-Paquette was quoted in a story in The Boston Globe published earlier this week calling for Martell to resign based on the email messages.

Martell could not be reached for comment Friday night.

Lyons’s statement on the controversy Friday did not move one prominent member of the executive committee of the state GOP, who said late Friday night he stands by a message he sent two days ago to other party members calling the content of Martell’s email messages “a public relations disaster” that requires the resignation of Martell.

Tom Mountain, vice chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, says he called Martell earlier this week and asked her to resign. He framed the issue in terms of hostile mainstream media making use of the email messages to paint a distorted picture of the GOP.

“Think of it. This isolated incident sparked by one State Committeewoman spewing anti-gay remarks fits perfectly into their hideously biased narrative against us. They’ll use this rant from a lone Republican official to tarnish us all as the vile, lowlife, intolerant, bigots that they always ‘knew’ we were. And now they have the smoking gun,” Mountain said in the email message earlier this week. “We can’t and won’t let this happen. We’ve worked too long and too hard presenting our Republican Party as the real Party of civility and tolerance.”

A Republican has not won a U.S. House seat in Massachusetts since 1994.


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