Topeka Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Holland on Thursday called on his Republican opponent, Sam Brownback, to denounce Lou Engle, a controversial anti-homosexual minister, whom Holland compared to Fred Phelps.
"I am calling on Sam Brownback to formally denounce Lou Engle -- not just `some' of his statements -- but his entire message of violence, hate and bigotry.
"Lou Engle sounds a lot like Fred Phelps," Holland said referring to the anti-homosexual preacher known for his protests at the funerals of soldiers killed in war. "But the difference is unlike Fred Phelps, Lou Engle lived with Sam Brownback in Washington, D.C.," Holland said.
Brownback, a U.S. senator, shared a condominium with Engle for seven months. Engle has gained a reputation for his opposition to gays and abortion.
Earlier this year, Engle went to Uganda while that country was considering legislation that could have resulted in the death penalty for some gays. Engle's critics said Engle praised those legislators who were pushing for that law. Engle has said his position was misunderstood.
In December, Brownback participated with Engle in a "PrayerCast" in which participants prayed against the passage of federal health care reform. Brownback has also spoken at rallies with Engle, and Engle had once said that Brownback would become president. Brownback ran for the Republican Party nomination for president in 2007 but was unsuccessful.
In recent days, Brownback has said he disagreed with some of Engle's statements. On Wednesday, he said he hadn't spoken to Engle for several months. Brownback said in the past he worked with Engle on measures that called for apologies for the treatment of Native Americans and African-Americans.
On Thursday, Brownback's campaign said the senator stood by his statements from the day before. E-mail messages left for Engle by the Lawrence Journal-World have not been returned.
Holland also said Brownback should say whether he would, if elected, continue an executive order established by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that bans discrimination in executive state agencies on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Brownback has said he will review all executive orders if elected. Holland said he supported the executive order.