I saw the statement you released yesterday in which you said your “hate speech” is merely “free speech.” That’s kind of gross, but it’s also beside the point.
The point is this: your words have consequences. Ask Judy Shepherd — her son, Matthew, was viciously murdered ten years ago by people who think like you. Ask the parents of Lawrence King, an openly gay eighth-grader who was gunned down in school last month by a classmate whose fear was stoked by words like yours. Just this past fall, Steven Domer, a 62-year-old gay man was brutally murdered right in your home state of Oklahoma.
What you said is not okay, but that’s not because most sensible people disagree with it. It’s because your words give aid and comfort to those who would hurt, maim and even kill people who are different from you. Comparing gays and lesbians to cancer and terrorism and saying they are the “biggest threat to America,” gives license to others to treat us that way, especially given the leadership position you hold in your community.
I also read that some of your colleagues in the Republican caucus stood and cheered you as you entered their meeting yesterday. How odd and depressing. This isn’t a partisan issue; I know plenty of Republicans who were outraged at your comments, because they themselves are parents, friends and family to gays and lesbians who are at risk when people of your stature say the kinds of things you did.
Whether or not you agree that gay people deserve halfway decent treatment (the fact that you said we were destroying America implies that you don’t), what I want you to understand is that the words you said will have real life implications. Your speech can lead to the murders of more young people. You have outraged hundreds of thousands, but you may have inspired a few people, too. That’s not just sad, it’s evil.
The point of the Victory Fund’s releasing your speech was to draw attention to the fact that even elected leaders like you are saying some nasty and potentially dangerous things about your fellow citizens. Our mission is to elect people to counter your hate and bigotry with honesty and courage.
You may have been applauded by a handful of your colleagues, but more than a half million people are now listening. They heard you loud and clear, and they’re not clapping.