Civil Rights Coalition Appalled by Senator Rick Santorum’s Attack on Gay and Lesbian Equality

Media 04.22.03

WASHINGTON — Wade Henderson, the executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, issued the following statement today regarding divisive anti-gay comments made recently by Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) during an interview with the Associated Press:

“We are deeply troubled by Sen. Santorum’s remarks because he showed a disturbing anti-gay bias by comparing homosexuality to such conduct as bigamy, polygamy, incest or adultery. Such comparisons fly in the face of scientific and medical data, common sense, and basic decency. In making his remarks, Sen. Santorum has attacked and marginalized an entire segment of the American population.”

“His comments were eerily reminiscent of remarks made by former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who in a 1998 interview argued that homosexuality is a disease very similar to alcoholism or kleptomania. Like the remarks of his now-discredited colleague, Sen. Santorum’s statement suggests a continuing pattern of pervasive anti-gay bias within the Republican leadership, a pattern that we strongly urge President Bush and current Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to disavow.”

“As an institution committed to civil and human rights, LCCR believes that the right to equal protection under the law, as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, is paramount in our society. The Supreme Court will soon determine the constitutionality of a Texas sodomy law, which is being challenged because it denies to gays and lesbians the right to equal protection, by singling them out for criminal sanctions for engaging in private, consensual intimate activity. Senator Santorum speaks favorably of the Texas law, which refutes his claim, made today, that he is a ‘firm believer that all are equal under the Constitution.’ Without a firm belief in the equality of every American, LCCR questions Sen. Santorum’s fitness to be a leader in a body as important as the United States Senate.”

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