A North Dakota lawmaker who sent an explicit photo of himself to another man says the exchange being made public is retaliation for a recent vote against expanding gay rights.

State Rep. Randy Boehning, a 52-year-old Republican legislator from Fargo, says a Capitol employee told him a fellow lawmaker vowed to out him as gay if he continued to vote against bills granting gays legal protections against discrimination.

Boehning refused to identify at this point who he believes is behind the purported political payback for his vote against Senate Bill 2279, the third such bill defeated in the past six years by North Dakota legislators.

The exchange came to light when Dustin Smith, a 21-year-old Bismarck man with no known connections to the Capitol, contacted Forum News Service earlier this month, saying he recognized Boehning from a gay dating smartphone app called Grindr. Chatting under the user name Top Man!, Boehning sent Smith sexually suggestive messages and, in the early morning hours of March 12, an unsolicited explicit photo.

"How can you discriminate against the person you're trying to pick up?" Smith said in a recent interview.