A Republican politician in Utah has sparked outrage for suggesting in a tweet that people turn "muskets" on LGBTQ people trying to enter a Mormon youth seminary in the state.
In his since-deleted Twitter post, Gregory Smith, a failed candidate for the city council in North Ogden, referenced a speech delivered by an anti-LGBTQ Mormon Elder that many interpreted as a call for violence against LGBTQ people.
LGBTQ rights organization Equality Utah shared a screenshot of Smith's tweet, seen below.
Smith's tweet included a screenshot of a Facebook post from Natalie Cline, a far-right anti-LGBTQ activist and an elected official in the Utah Department of Education. Cline's post showed a pro-LGBTQ image from a welcoming presentation at Layton High Seminary, a Mormon youth seminary in Layton, Utah that read, "If you are LGBTQIA+, welcome to seminary!"
Above the screenshot, Smith wrote:
"Time to get out our muskets."
It is believed Smith's tweet was a reference to a speech given earlier this week by Mormon Elder Jeffrey Holland at Brigham Young University. In it, Holland called for the use of muskets, a primitive firearm first invented in the 16th century and a symbol to many Americans of the American Revolution, to "[defend] marriage as the union of a man and woman."
Along with a screenshot of Smith's tweet, Equality Utah also issued a statement condemning his comments, Holland's speech, and Cline's relentless anti-LGBTQ activism, all of which came just days after a newlywed lesbian couple, Crystal Turner and Kylen Schulte, were murdered by a "creepy guy" who had been lurking around their campsite near the city of Moab, Utah.
Referencing Turner's and Schulte's murders directly, as well as the 2016 Pulse massacre, Equality Utah wrote:
"Words matter... Reckless rhetoric often precedes acts of violence..."
"...Words matter. Especially when they come from leaders."
On Twitter, people were both outraged by Smith's tweet and appreciative of Equality Utah and the Layton High Seminary for their responses.
Smith has since deleted his social media presence, expressing embarrassment over the controversy and telling media earlier this week "I'm off Twitter, I'm an idiot."