A North Dakota lawmaker who has actively fought extending equal rights for gay people, has been exposed for sending an explicit photo of himself to another man on Grindr and says the exchange being made public is retaliation for a recent vote against expanding gay rights.
According to inForum:
Boehning refused to identify at this point who he believes is behind the purported political payback for his vote against Senate Bill 2279, the third such bill defeated in the past six years by North Dakota legislators.
The exchange came to light when Dustin Smith, a 21-year-old Bismarck man with no known connections to the Capitol, contacted The Forum earlier this month, saying 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, according to exchanges reviewed by The Forum.
“How can you discriminate against the person you’re trying to pick up?” Smith said.
Boehning initially declined to comment on whether he sent the explicit photo and messages two weeks ago, but on Saturday, he confirmed he was Top Man! He says he doesn’t think sending a graphic photo of himself to a stranger is a lapse in judgment because 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.”
Boehning said there are people who know he is gay, but many of his family members and friends do not.
“The 1,000-pound gorilla has been lifted,” he said. “I have to confront it at some point.”
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.
He said many members of the Legislature find themselves allying and clashing on a variety of issues, regardless of party.