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Gazette Premium Content El Paso County candidate for state House issues apology video after Dems, GOP criticize comments

By Megan Schrader and Matt Steiner Updated: August 26, 2014 at 8:11 am

After both Democratic and Republican leaders cried foul Monday, an El Paso County candidate for the state House of Representatives issued a video apology for his comments in a newsletter email comparing a Colorado congressman's bill to beheadings of Christians in Iraq.

"Apparently some Democrats do not have a sense of humor and they were offended by the things I said using hyperbole this weekend," House District 15 candidate Gordon Klingenschmitt says in the video after defining the term hyperbole for viewers. "So I want to apologize to you, Jared Polis."

Klingenschmitt then says that even though U.S. Rep. Jared Polis is "an openly gay Democrat" passing policies to persecute some Christian business owners, "I would never compare you to the ISIS rebels who behead Christians, right? Of course, you would never go in for something like that."

ISIS, or Islamic State, is a militant group that has recently made headlines for attacks in the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq. The violence has drawn U.S. military support.

But that's what Klingenschmitt did in a newsletter he sent out about Polis' Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to protected classes under employment law.

Klingenschmitt said the proposed law, without religious exemptions, would punish Christian-owned businesses by forcing them to hire and promote homosexuals.

"The open persecution of Christians is underway," Klingenschmitt wrote in an email that he provided to The Gazette. "Democrats like Polis want to bankrupt Christians who refuse to worship and endorse his sodomy. Next he'll join ISIS in beheading Christians, but not just in Syria, right here in America."

Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, was the first to call out the statements.

"The Colorado Republican Party has squandered their credibility over and over again with these kinds of over the top and offensive remarks," Ferrandino said in a statement. "They are far behind the people of Colorado when it comes to issues of basic fairness, civil rights, and apparently even common decency. I call on Ryan Call and other Republicans to denounce Mr. Klingenschmitt and his homophobic, extreme, and slanderous attacks against Congressman Polis."

Ryan Call, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, has said previously that Klingenschmitt does not speak on behalf of the Republican Party.

"His comments in no way reflect the views of the party. Gordon needs to give a sincere apology," Colorado GOP spokesman Owen Loftus said on Monday after he had watched the apology video that is filled with sarcasm.

Klingenschmitt has created controversy in the past with statements he has made on the videos he creates for his for-profit company Pray in Jesus Name that petitions Congress on issues that include religious freedom, gun rights and opposing gay marriage.

Klingenschmitt won the Republican primary in June and is running against Democrat Lois Fornander for the District 15 seat.

He concludes his "apology" video by saying surely Polis and he can find common ground when it comes to charity. Klingenschmitt then dumps water over his head and challenges Polis, Ferrandino and Call to the "Ice Bucket Challenge," an Internet fundraising campaign for ALS medical research.

Participants must donate $10 to a charity for the neurodegenerative disease commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease and dump a bucket of ice water over their heads, or forgo the drenching and donate $100 to the charity. Klingenschmitt, like many, pledged to do both in his video.

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Gazette reporter Matt Steiner contributed to this story.

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