The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights group, is under fire for its continued
support of Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican, after he made a
racially charged remark.
At a debate on Thursday, Kirk took a
swipe at his Democratic opponent, Representative Tammy Duckworth,
after she talked about her family's military history.
“My family has served this nation in
uniform going back to the Revolution. I am a daughter of the
American Revolution. I've bled for this nation,” Duckworth said.
“Families like mine are the ones that lead first.”
“I've forgotten that your parents
came over all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,”
Duckworth has a Thai mother and an
American father who is a World War II veteran and traces his heritage
back to the American Revolution, according to Mother Jones.
Kirk apologized on Friday in a tweet.
“Sincere apologies to an American hero, Tammy Duckworth, and
gratitude for her family's service,” he messaged, a reference to
Duckworth, who lost both her legs serving in the Iraq War.
“I think that any organization would
reconsider an endorsement of a candidate that makes an obvious racist
statement,” said Stampp Corbin, a gay Democratic activist and
publisher of San Diego LGBT Weekly.
Corbin noted that Kirk dropped his
endorsement of Donald Trump, the GOP presidential nominee, over
“HRC needs to hold Kirk to his own
standard,” he said.
In a statement, HRC called Kirk's
comments “wrong and inappropriate” and called on the Republican
senator to rescind them, but added that it endorsed Kirk “based on
the strength of his record on LGBTQ equality” and “that remains
unchanged.” Kirk was the second sitting Republican senator to
endorse marriage equality and is a co-sponsor of the Equality Act, a
stalled bill that would prohibit discrimination in seven key areas,
including employment, housing and public accommodations, on the basis
of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Critics, however, point out that
Duckworth is also a strong supporter of LGBT rights.