State Rep. Larry Brown sent his fellow House Republicans an e-mail last week where he referred to gays as "queers" and "fruitloops."
Brown was responding to an e-mail House Minority Leader Paul Stam of Apex sent to members of his caucus about House Speaker Joe Hackney getting an award from the Equality NC Foundation, a gay-rights group.
Brown sent his reply to nearly 60 e-mail addresses.
"I hope all the queers are thrilled to see him," said the message dated Sept. 27. "I am sure there will be a couple legislative fruitloops there in the audience."
Ian Palmquist, executive director of Equality North Carolina, said Brown should apologize for using anti-gay slurs.
"I think it's disgusting to see a member of the legislature talking about his own constituents and fellow North Carolinians that way," Palmquist said. "I would hope that he would apologize and his colleagues would speak out about that kind of bigotry."
Brown did not return telephone calls today.
Stam said the e-mail was intended to be private and the only people Brown should apologize to are those who got the e-mail and were offended.
"It was not sent to a public group," Stam said. "There's a lot of language that is used by public officials in public and private that should not be used. I don't use that language myself."
Stam wouldn't say whether he talked to Brown about the e-mail, or if any other caucus members objected, saying he considered such conversations "internal communications."
"If any of them want to tell you what they told Larry, that's fine," he said.
Stam said he sent a copy of the announcement about Hackney's award to Republican members because he's getting it for supporting two bills they opposed - one expanding sex education to include more information about contraceptives, and the another an anti-bullying measure that identifies gay students as potential bully targets.
Brown, the former mayor of Kernersville, is in his third term. He is running for re-election unopposed.