N.J. Lawmaker Under Fire After Homophobic Rant Attacking City’s First Openly Gay Mayor

Robin Vaughn, a city councilwoman for Trenton, New Jersey, is facing calls to resign after she called the city’s first openly gay mayor a “drug addict pedophile,” “a woman,” a “b*tch *ss” and accused him of bringing “a bunch of young boys” to city hall.

Vaughn unleashed the profane and homophobic 10-minute outburst during a Saturday coronavirus conference to discuss the city’s coronavirus planning.

In the weekend conference call, Mayor Reed Gusciora (D) asked Councilwoman Robin Vaughn (D) about a statement she made on social media in which she accused him of supporting “do nothing nonprofit organizations.”

The exchange led to a heated back-and-forth in which Gusciora called Vaughn a “child” and an “idiot.”

In her response, Vaughn called Gusciora a “drug addict pedophile,” suggesting “the only thing [Gusciora] brought into City Hall is a bunch of young boys, and they’re sitting up there in the mayor’s suite.”

She then accused a colleague, Councilman Joe Harrison, of having a sexual relationship with Gusciora and said neither were “real men.”

Gusciora, who was elected in 2018, told NBC News in an email that he regrets “interacting” with Vaughn during the call, given her “history of causing disruptions.”

“Government leaders at all levels will disagree on the best course of action, and sometimes emotions can get the best of us. But Councilwoman Vaughn chose to launch into a vitriolic attack full of homophobic slurs, false accusations, and hateful comments,” Gusciora said in a statement. “The toxic and harassing language used by the Councilperson has no place even in the most heated of arguments.”

Vaughn confirmed she made the comments on Twitter but claimed her comments were taken out of context. The Trentonian included about 54 minutes of the conference call.

“Trentonians, since I don’t have the privilege of having friends who are owners and/or editors of newspapers who will only write good things about me or my side of a story, then I will request the full audio or transcript be released so you, the residents and taxpayers of Trenton, will have the full context of the conference call,” Vaughn wrote.

At least two LGBT rights groups, Garden State Equality and the Victory Fund, have called for Vaughn’s resignation over the incident.

“Mayor Reed Gusciora has faced adversities serving not only as the first LGBTQ mayor of the state but as the first openly LGBTQ member of the state legislature and has had to repeatedly beat back homophobic remarks like Vaughn’s,” Jon Oliveira, a spokesman for Garden State Equality, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, told NBC News. “This is why we will stand by the mayor and are calling for Vaughn’s resignation.”

Oliveira said Vaughn has “a long history of demeaning remarks” and pointed to an incident last September when she initially defended Trenton City Council President Kathy McBride’s use of the phrase “Jew her down,” when referring to a city attorney. Following criticism, Vaughn apologized.

Annise Parker, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, a national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders, also called for Vaughn’s resignation.

“Councilwoman Vaughn relied on the oldest and ugliest of stereotypes to launch her homophobic tirade against Mayor Gusciora — much as she did in defending anti-Semitic comments last September,” Parker said in a statement. “It is now a pattern, and her use of and support of such hateful language proves she is entirely unfit to hold public office.”