Michigan Republicans are apologizing for three GOP state legislators (Peter Pettalia, Roger Victory and Ben Glardon) who posed for a photograph while reading fashion magazines in the legislative chamber Thursday. The picture was captioned: "Don't say we don't understand women."
"What they meant to be a joke wasn't funny to some and I apologize to those who may have been offended," said House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) in a statement. "The concerns facing Michigan's women are very real, and that is why we have been working to attract more jobs to Michigan, increase the quality of education for Michigan’s kids, and improve public safety in all communities."
The image set off a firestorm of criticism on social media following its release and prompted Detroit Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer to condemn the three lawmakers for minimizing the concerns of women.
Detroit Free Press: "All three of these lawmakers, for example, voted to approve a controversial provision dubbed “rape insurance” that bars private insurers from covering almost all abortions, even some that are medically necessary, without purchase of a separate rider. All three voted in favor of a bill that would require welfare recipients to perform community service in exchange for benefits, never mind that women with children, receiving the average state welfare payment of $356 a month might find it difficult to arrange the child care that would enable such activity.
"And that’s why this kind of reductionist condescension, this minimizing of women’s lives, interests and concerns — why making a joke of a lawmaker’s responsibility to understand his or her constituents — is wretchedly, despicably offensive."
However, the Republican's Deputy Hosue Whip Andrea LaFontaine called such criticisms unfounded.
"In the House Republican caucus, we have strong women and strong men who may not all agree on all issues, but who all are working hard for a brighter future for everyone in Michigan," LaFontaine said in a statement. "The recent Democrat attacks are not only unfair to both the men and women in our caucus, they are not representative of the reality of serving in the Legislature now."