Louisiana Senator David Vitter, speaking at a Lafayette Parish Republican Executive Committee luncheon, referred to hurricanes Katrina and Rita coming through the same areas as a same-sex marriage.
In his statements at the luncheon, Vitter referred to the impact of both hurricanes on the Lafayette area. “Unfortunately, it’s the crossroads where Katrina meets Rita,” said Vitter. “I a
Advertisement:lways knew I was against same-sex unions.”
Numerous other comments were made during the luncheon targeting state and local government officials, most of whom are Democrats.
In response to the comments by Vitter, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese sent the following letter to Vitter:
Dear Senator David Vitter,
There is not a lot that happens in Washington that causes me to do a double take. Reading your comparison between Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and marriages for same-sex couples was one of those rare, jaw-dropping moments.
Katrina and Rita caused devastation and despair for millions of Americans, including gay Americans. There simply is no way to make a joke out of this kind of disaster.
Either you need a new speechwriter, or your sense of humor is really off the mark. Your state is home to almost 9,000 same-sex families, according to 2000 U.S. Census data. These constituents also faced devastating losses caused by the hurricanes, and I doubt they found any humor in your jokes.
More than 1,100 rights, responsibilities and protections are denied to same-sex couples without the right to marry. That means the same-sex couples who lost loved ones in the hurricanes will be unable to receive Social Security benefits as other spouses will. They won’t get tax-free access to their spouses’ pensions. For families already facing hardships from the hurricanes, they have these obstacles and more to confront. The last thing they need is their elected officials mocking their misfortune.
At the very least, the people of Louisiana are due an apology.
Human Rights Campaign President
Published on: October 18, 2005
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