* From the Human Rights Campaign…
After careful consideration, HRC’s Public Policy Committee of the Board of Directors has taken the unprecedented step — a first in our 36-year history — of revoking an endorsement. We are a bipartisan organization and our staff and board make endorsement decisions based on a proven record of LGBTQ equality and a candidate’s ability to drive legislative change. We will not continue to make progress and pass the Equality Act without Republican support. It’s vitally important that we continue to build bipartisan coalitions so that we may continue to move equality forward. We endorsed the sitting Senator, Mark Kirk, because he has been a strong supporter of our cause time and again, scoring a 100 percent on HRC’s most recent Congressional Scorecard. But events this week have gone beyond the pale for our standards of leadership.
Leadership is about more than the legislation one sponsors and the votes one casts. On Thursday night, Senator Kirk’s comments about his opponent’s heritage were deeply offensive and racist. His attempt to use Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth’s race as a means to undermine her family’s American heritage and patriotism is beyond reprehensible. Yesterday, Senator Kirk tweeted an apology that failed to adequately address the real harm and magnitude of his words. So today, following a vote by our board’s committee, the Human Rights Campaign withdrew our support of Senator Kirk.
Attacking someone because of her race and ethnicity is inexcusable for anyone, but especially for a sitting U.S. Senator. The diversity of our movement is our greatest strength, and Senator Kirk’s remarks were an affront to our most fundamental values. We have therefore voted to endorse Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who has been a strong LGBTQ ally in the House of Representatives, and HRC will contribute the maximum amount to her campaign. We look forward to working with her in the Senate to secure full federal equality for all LGBTQ Americans.
The group was under serious pressure to back off its endorsement.
* And that’s not all…
Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC (ARS PAC) – the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly – announced today it has revoked its endorsement of United States Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois in the wake of his racist attack on U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.
STATEMENT BY ARS PAC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PETER AMBLER
“In public office, your values matter as much as your votes. That’s the example Gabby set in Congress and in her campaigns, and that’s the example we must follow in the movement to reduce gun violence. Senator Kirk’s racist attack on Congresswoman Duckworth is unacceptable and represents a low point, even in this election season. For that reason, Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC is revoking its endorsement of Senator Kirk. While we believe the path to responsible change and communities safer from gun violence must include Republican champions, we cannot continue to support Senator Kirk. A man who is not worthy of your vote cannot be worthy of our endorsement. As Gabby and Mark wrote in August, Congresswoman Duckworth is an American hero and a powerful voice for stronger gun laws. She will be an exceptional United States Senator.”
*** UPDATE *** From the Kirk campaign…
Hey Rich — here are two on the record statements below from the Kirk campaign and from Divided Families USA to be included in your coverage of the HRC action.
On the record:
”Senator Kirk is incredibly proud of his leadership to fight discrimination at every level, including speaking on the steps of the Supreme Court to urge them to support marriage equality. The HRC decision today is unfortunate because it was based on politics instead of reality and further exemplified just how uncomfortable HRC was in supporting a Republican who was a leader for their efforts, including eradicating discrimination. ” -Kirk campaign spokesperson Eleni Demertzis
“We believe the accusations of racism being leveled against Sen. Kirk are totally unfounded and unfair. For over a decade, Sen. Kirk has championed the Korean-American war-torn divided families issue when few legislators, Asian or otherwise, would. Without Sen. Kirk’s advocacy, we believe our divided families issue may fail to get the legislative support needed to fulfill their lifelong dreams of reunion—a humanitarian tragedy in the making. Sen. Kirk has, and continues to be, a vigorous champion for the Korean-American community and commands the respect of Asian Americans at large.” – Dr. Jason Ahn, Board Chair, Divided Families USA
By the way, Kirk’s sister was adopted from South Korea as a baby.