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Senator Apologizes After Saying a Man in a Tutu 'Asks for It'

mike enzi

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming said he regrets "a poor choice of words."


U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, is facing criticism after telling a group of students last week at Greybull High School that it is fine to be LGBT but that he knows "a guy" who wears a tutu to bars and gets in fights -- and "he kind of asks for it," reports Wyoming's Greybull Standard.

"What work are you and your comrades doing to improve the life of the LGBT community in Wyoming?" a student asked during the event last Thursday. "How do you plan to help Wyoming live up to its name as 'The Equality State?'"

The senator responded:

"We always say that in Wyoming you can be just about anything you want to be, as long as you don't push it in somebody's face. I know a guy who wears a tutu and goes to bars on Friday night and is always surprised that he gets in fights. Well, he kind of asks for it. That's the way that he winds up with that kind of problem. I'd be interested in any solutions that you have for how we can make that work better."

Matthew Burciaga, an editor at the Standard, called Enzi's comments "tone deaf" in an email to HuffPost. Enzi has since apologized for the comments he made. "I regret a poor choice of words," he said. Read his full statement below:

"I believe all individuals should be treated with respect. I do not believe that anyone should be bullied, intimidated or attacked because of their beliefs. Wyoming's population is made so great by its mixture -- and tolerance -- of differing value and belief systems. Our live and let live approach is one of the great aspects of our state. It is important that our students learn that the importance of respecting all people and how it is incumbent on those in the communities we live in to treat others as you would want to be treated. It is such a simple lesson -- it is never permissible to hurt another. Hatred in any form is destructive to the very foundation upon which our society is built.

"No person, including LGBT individuals, should feel unsafe in their community. My message was intended specifically to be about promoting respect and tolerance toward each other. I hope if people look at the entirety of my speech, they will understand that. I regret a poor choice of words during part of my presentation. None of us is infallible and I apologize to anyone who has taken offense. No offense was intended. Quite the opposite in fact, and so I ask for your understanding as well."

Max D'Onofrio, a spokesman for Enzi, told HuffPost that he hopes Enzi's statements are not taken out of context. "He talked about how many Wyoming folks take a live and let live approach to life, but we need to be conscious that everyone may not react the same way to differing value and belief systems. He advocates nothing but respect and civil treatment for members of the LGBT community," D'Onofrio said in an email to the publication. "No one should take his remarks out of context or misconstrue them to mean anything but advocacy of kindness toward our fellow citizens."

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Yezmin Villarreal

Yezmin Villarreal is the former news editor for The Advocate. Her work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mic, LA Weekly, Out Magazine and The Fader.
Yezmin Villarreal is the former news editor for The Advocate. Her work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mic, LA Weekly, Out Magazine and The Fader.