The executive committee of the Natrona County Republican Party on Tuesday condemned Casper House Rep. Gerald Gay's recent critical comments about working women.

"While the Natrona County Republican Party respects Representative Gay’s right to state his beliefs, we do not condone and cannot support his recent statements on the gender wage gap in Wyoming," according to a statement from the party's' executive committee and released Wednesday by Natrona County GOP Chairwoman Bonnie Foster.

"Historically, women have been, and continue to be, vital contributors to the economy of the Equality State. Many Republican legislators have worked tirelessly to close the wage gap for working women in Wyoming and we support those efforts," according to the statement.

The statement did not suggest Republicans in Gay's House District 36 to not vote for him or suggest they vote for his Democratic opponent Debbie Bovee.

Neither Gay nor Bovee had answering machines to take requests for comment on Wednesday.

House District 36 includes east Casper, Evansville and northeast Natrona County. Gay was in the House in 2001-2002, 2005-2006, and from 2010, according to the Legislature's website.

Earlier this year, Gay talked to veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake about a number of issues including the gender wage gap. Drake wrote the column for the liberal nonprofit Better Wyoming advocacy group. The group published the column on its Facebook page on Sept. 12.

Wyoming's gender wage gap is the worst in the nation, with women making 67.7 percent less than men in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Gay told Drake the gender wage gap is a fact of life, Wyoming business and gender politics, especially when it comes to taking time off.

"Men and woman have different ways of going about taking time off  -- moms for maternity leave and that sort of thing. Women are always going to take their full maternity leave, and there's the dependability issue about whether they're going to show up for things.

"Historically, [women] tend to take every sick day that's available with them them and that's a gender thing," Gay told Drake.

The Casper Star-Tribune later asked Gay to further explain his comments. Gay said, "'Women in the workforce traditionally take a disproportionate amount of their sick days off for other reasons that sick days,' he said. 'They take junior to the hospital or go see Johnny's soccer game.'"

Social media responses have been harsh, especially from working women.

Foster said Wednesday a number of people in the Natrona County Republican Party's 16-member executive committee brought up Gay's recent comments during a closed session Tuesday night. As chairwoman, she is not a voting member except in the case of a tie, she said.

Foster would not discuss the statement further.

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