North Dakota state Rep. Randy Boehning (R) has come out as a member of the LGBT community after he was caught sending explicit photos on a gay dating app.
Boehning, who voted against a bill earlier this month that would extend housing, workplace and other protections to LGBT North Dakota residents, revealed to The Forum this week that he is attracted to both men and women.
Boehning's revelation came two weeks after he originally declined to comment on information provided to The Forum that appeared to show that the lawmaker used Grindr, a gay dating app.
"The 1,000-pound gorilla has been lifted," he told The Forum on Monday, confirming to the outlet that he had used the app to meet men. "I have to confront it at some point."
Dustin Smith, a 21-year-old from North Dakota, told The Forum that he had chatted with and received sexually explicit photos from Boehning on Grindr. Smith recognized the lawmaker and explained to The Washington Post why he chose to come forward with the exchanges.
“I just felt like this story had to get out,” Dustin Smith, 21, told The Washington Post. “A [representative] had voted against a bill for the LGBT community and here he was talking to me on Grindr.”
Smith told The Washington Post he confronted the lawmaker before going to the media, asking him, "Doesn’t the hypocrisy bother you?." Boehning did not respond.
Smith said that nobody influenced him to come forward. Boehning told The Forum that he believes the outing was orchestrated by political opponents, claiming he was told that another House lawmaker would retaliate against him if he did not vote in favor of the anti-discrimination bill on April 2.
Boehning voted against the bill, which ultimately failed to pass. He says he voted against this and a past bill attempting to provide legal protection for sexual orientation because he didn't believe his constituents supported them.
“This has been a challenge for me,” he told The Forum. “You don’t tell everyone you’re going to vote one way and then switch your vote another way -- you don’t have any credibility that way.” Boehning says he also had concerns about the language of the bill.
Boehning's office did not immediately return The Huffington Post's request for comment.
Boehning is not the first U.S. lawmaker to be outed on Grindr. In 2011, Puerto Rican Senator Robert Arango, an outspoken enemy of gay marriage and rights, posted shirtless photos of himself on the app and resigned. Pre-smartphone era in 2004, U.S. Rep. Edward L. Schrock from Virginia resigned after he reportedly left voicemail messages on a gay phone sex hotline.
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