WASHINGTON - Speaking at a luncheon on Oct. 12, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., compared Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to marriages of same-sex couples. Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese sent the following letter to the senator today in response. When describing an area in Louisiana, Vitter said: "Unfortunately, it's the crossroads where Katrina meets Rita. I always knew I was against same-sex unions."
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
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
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