GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (RNS) An assistant attorney general in Michigan is defending his rights as a “Christian private citizen” to denounced the openly gay student body president of the University of Michigan.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday (Sept. 28) that his online campaign against UM’s Chris Armstrong is conducted in his free time.
Blogging under the name Concerned Michigan Alumnus, Shirvell has used his “Chris Armstrong Watch” blog to describe Armstrong as a “RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST, RACIST, ELITIST, & LIAR.” One image on the blog shows the student’s face superimposed with a rainbow flag containing a swastika.
“I’m a Christian citizen exercising my First Amendment rights,” Shirvell told Cooper on CNN. “I have no problem with the fact that Chris is a homosexual. I have a problem with the fact that he’s advancing a radical homosexual agenda.”
Shirvell attacked Armstrong’s campaign to expand gender-neutral housing on campus. He admitted to protesting outside Armstrong’s home.
When Cooper asked whether his behavior was becoming of a state employee, Shirvell said he had agreed to the interview on the condition that he wouldn’t answer questions regarding his employment.
CNN contacted Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who issued a statement saying “Mr. Shirvell’s personal opinions are his and his alone and do not reflect the views of the Michigan Department of Attorney General. “But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear.”
On Wednesday, Cox appeared on Anderson’s show and described Shirvell as “clearly a bully” but said he did not appear to be violating state civil service laws.
“Here in America, we have this thing called the First Amendment, which allows people to express what they think and engage in political and social speech,” he said.