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Calls mount for Republican official to resign after anti-gay remarks

Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette, left, a Republican congressional candidate, pictured with his adopted children Ashley and Rylan and his husband, Julian.
Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette, left, a Republican congressional candidate, pictured with his adopted children Ashley and Rylan and his husband, Julian.Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette

Deborah Martell, an elected member of the Republican State Committee, is staying quiet as calls mount for her to resign over offensive remarks she made to and about a gay GOP congressional candidate.

In the latest development, Massachusetts GOP Vice Chairman Tom Mountain called Martell Tuesday night and formally asked her to resign, advising her that the state committee would likely censure her at its next meeting on June 9. Mountain told Martell that the committee does not have the power to expel her but she has lost the good will of many of her colleagues.

“We don’t want someone who’s anti-gay on our state committee,” Mountain said. “She made our party look really bad, and she did a bad thing. That’s the bottom line. The time for apologies has come and gone.”

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At issue are comments Martell made about Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette, who is running for a Second Congressional District seat currently held by Democratic Representative Jim McGovern. In multiple e-mails reviewed by the Globe, Martell said that she was “sickened” that Sossa-Paquette had adopted two children along with his husband, Julian.

“What sickened me was that you adopted children,” Martell wrote in an e-mail to Sossa-Paquette. “I am a Catholic who loves God and His Ten Commandments. . . . Children deserve a mom and a dad. That’s how God designed marriage and the family.”

Martell represents Ludlow on the 80-member panel that governs the state party.

Her comments drew swift condemnation from top Massachusetts Republicans, including Governor Charlie Baker, who called on her to resign.

“Deborah Martell’s comments about Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette and his family are abhorrent and have no place in public discourse and of course have no place in the leadership of a political party founded on protecting individual freedom,” Baker said in a statement Tuesday.

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Mountain, the state Republican Party vice chairman, said that Martell refused to apologize and that she “said nothing” in response to his request that she resign within 24 hours.

“Hopefully she’ll do the right thing,” Mountain said. “I don’t know if she will because she hasn’t done the right thing yet.”

As top Republicans condemn her anti-gay language, Martell herself and GOP Chairman Jim Lyons have not responded to multiple requests for comment from the Globe.

Several Republicans said Lyons has refused to intervene in the mess and ignored their calls and messages about it.

Lyons “doesn’t want to get involved,” Mountain said. “Well, I’m sorry, but you have to get involved. This is our state party . . . and it has to be taken care of immediately.”

Sossa-Paquette said that Lyons is “washing his hands of it.”

State Representative Shawn Dooley, a Norfolk Republican who also serves on the state committee, has circulated a resolution to the rest of the body condemning “hateful ideology” and affirming that “those putting forth an agenda of hate and intolerance have no place in the Republican Party of Massachusetts.” About 30 members have already signed on and he said he anticipates more support.

Sossa-Paquette has two children — Ashley, 19, and Rylan, 10 — and owns a day care in Worcester County with his husband.

He said he has battled bigotry all his life and won’t allow Martell to intimidate him.

The e-mails about Sossa-Paquette were not the first time Martell sent hateful anti-gay remarks to and about fellow Republicans.

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When Alex Hagerty, director at large for Massachusetts Log Cabin Republicans, became Abington’s first openly gay selectman, an e-mail circulated among state committee members congratulating him. Martell privately replied “Hell is real!” according to Hagerty, who received a copy of her e-mail from a fellow Republican.




Emma Platoff can be reached at emma.platoff@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmaplatoff.