Since Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced his support for marriage equality last week, other Republican lawmakers have been asked to clarify their own positions on same-sex marriage. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), for example, both explained that they would still oppose marriage equality even if they had children who came out as gay. But Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) offered Politico a different explanation:
CHAMBLISS: I’m not gay. So I’m not going to marry one.
Though context is lacking, his conflation of the adjective “gay” and noun “one” is offensive on its face (i.e. he’s not going to marry “a gay.”) But Chambliss’s comment reflects a common sentiment among Republicans who oppose policies that don’t apply to them — particularly any with specific protections for minorities:
- Just last week, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) lashed out at the Violence Against Women Act because it included protections for people who are transgender, a term the Congressman seemed unfamiliar with.
- In 2009, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) tried to cut a requirement for maternity care, arguing, “I don’t need maternity care,” and thus it’s unfair that his policy should have to be more expensive.
- In 2006, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) justified his opposition to marriage equality by boasting his pride that there’s never been “any kind of homosexual relationship” in the “recorded history of our family.”
- When the House Oversight Committee held a hearing about Obamacare’s requirement for employers to provide contraception to employees, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) invited a panel of all men to testify against the provision, claiming the hearing was about religious liberty, “not about reproductive rights and contraception.”
- Newt Gingrich opposed allowing females to serve in military combat roles because if they were to stay in a ditch for 30 days, they would “get infections,” whereas men are “basically little piglets” who when dropped in a ditch, “they roll around in it.”
- Joking that in his state they “vote early and vote often,” Mitt Romney expressed his support for Voter ID laws during his presidential campaign, even though they suppress voters of color, students, and the elderly.
If Republicans truly want to reach out to diverse groups as their “Growth and Opportunity Project” claims, they are going to have to begin to learn how to empathize with the experience of people are different from themselves.