Santorum compares homosexuality to incest, polygamy

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com April 21 2003 11:00 PM ET

Gay rights activists are calling on congressional Republican leadership to take quick action to repudiate remarks U.S. senator Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, made to the Associated Press comparing homosexuality to bigamy, incest, and adultery.

Referring to an upcoming decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of antigay sodomy laws, Santorum told the Associated Press, "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything." He then added, "All of those things are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family. And that's sort of where we are in today's world, unfortunately. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't exist, in my opinion, in the United States Constitution."

Log Cabin Republicans, a gay political group, immediately condemned Santorum's comments. "There is nothing conservative about allowing law enforcement officials to enter the home of any American and arrest them for simply being gay," said LCR executive director Patrick Guerriero. "I am appalled that a member of the United States Senate leadership would advocate dividing Americans with ugly, hate-filled rhetoric."

Santorum is the Republican Party's conference chairman, the third-highest seat in the GOP leadership. And as the nonpartisan gay rights group Human Rights Campaign pointed out in a press release, his remarks mark the second time in recent months that a Republican leader has made "comments marginalizing or attacking an entire segment of the population." In December then-Senate majority leader Trent Lott made remarks that many interpreted as supporting segregation. In response to Lott's comments, President Bush said, "We must continue our advance toward full equality for every citizen, which demands the guarantee for civil rights for all."

"The discriminatory remarks made by Senator Santorum clearly do not reflect the compassionate conservatism promised by our president," said John Partain, president of the Pennsylvania chapter of LCR. "I thought we were past these types of remarks now that Jesse Helms is no longer in the Senate."

"Senator Santorum's remarks are deeply hurtful and play on deep-seated fears that fly in the face of scientific evidence, common sense, and basic decency," said Winnie Stachelberg, political director of the Washington, D.C.-based HRC. "Clearly there is no compassion in his conservatism. Discriminatory remarks like this fuel prejudice that can lead to violence and other harms against the gay community. HRC is calling on Republican leaders to take quick and decisive action to repudiate Senator Santorum's remarks [and] on Republican leadership to demonstrate that tolerance and civil rights are important to them--not simply something that is politically expedient."