Iowa state Representative Ralph Watt is
once again coming under fire for comments he made about gay men.
Watts, a Republican from Adel, in
February referred to Bryce Smith, the out Democrat he defeated in
November, as “red rider.”
LGBT rights group One Iowa criticized
the comment, saying that Watts had used a slur to describe a gay man.
According to ABC affiliate KCRG, Watts
was asked this weekend whether he knew that “red rider” was a gay
“When you had referred to your former
opponent as red rider, did you know that's a slur?” a woman asked
Watts at a public forum this weekend.
“No, I didn't know that was a slur,”
Watts responded. “Anything you say to a gay anymore is a gay
One Iowa Executive Director Daniel
Hoffman-Zinnel called Watts' response “unacceptable.”
“This is an unacceptably dismissive
and unapologetic response to a valid question about his previous use
of a slur,” Hoffman-Zinnel said in a statement. “Words have real
power to hurt and suppress marginalized communities, and Rep. Watts
is failing to take responsibility for his words and shifting blame to
the very community his words are hurting. Further, his use of the
phrase ‘a gay’ is homophobic and dehumanizing. We ask him to
apologize for his actions.”