“The 1,000-pound gorilla has been lifted,”Rep. Randy Boehning from North Dakota said, “I have to confront it at some point.”
On Saturday, he confirmed he was Top Man! and said he doesn’t think sending a graphic photo of himself to a stranger is a lapse in judgment, as Grindr is an adult site where users often exchange such images.
“That’s what gay guys do on gay sites, don’t they?” Boehning said. “That’s how things happen on Grindr. It’s a gay chat site. It’s not the first thing you do on that site. That’s what we do, exchange pics on the site.”
A 12-year veteran of North Dakota’s state assembly who has routinely voted against gay rights legislation, charged that the leaked messages were sent to media outlets in retaliation for his vote against Senate Bill 2279, which would have added sexual orientation to the state’s anti-discrimination law. The 52 year old Republican has voted against the bill three times.
Dustin Smith, a 21-year-old Bismarck man said he recognized Boehning from a gay dating smartphone app called Grindr. Chatting under the user name Top Man!, Boehning sent Smith sexually suggestive messages and, in the early morning hours of March 12, an unsolicited photo of his penis. In an interview in the Fargo Forum. Smith said How can you discriminate against the person your trying to pick up?
Boehning, who is single said there are people who know he is gay, but many of his family members and friends do not. He said Saturday he is also attracted to women and was relieved to come out because he no longer has to worry about being outed.
A self-employed general contractor, said he has voted against multiple attempts to extend protected-class status to include sexual orientation because he doesn’t believe his south Fargo constituents support it. Also, he has problems with the bill’s language, which would protect people who are “perceived” to be gay.
If “perceived” was removed from the bill, he might vote in favor of it, he said.
Asked whether he would be personally concerned about being discriminated against in the areas of housing, workplace or public accommodation, Boehning, who lives in a rented Fargo apartment, said landlords have the right to do as they see fit.