Sen. Vitter Should Apologize for Hurricane Remarks

Speaking at a luncheon on Oct. 12, Sen. David Vitter,
R-La., compared Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to marriages of same-sex
couples. Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese sent the
following letter to the Senator today in response. When describing an
area in Louisiana, Sen. Vitter said: "Unfortunately, it's the crossroads
where Katrina meets Rita. I always knew I was against same-sex unions."

Dear Senator David Vitter,

There is not a lot that happens in Washington that causes me to do a
double take. Reading your comparison between Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
and marriages for same-sex couples was one of those rare, jaw-dropping
moments.

Katrina and Rita caused devastation and despair for millions of
Americans, including gay Americans. There simply is no way to make a
joke out of this kind of disaster.

Either you need a new speechwriter, or your sense of humor is really off
the mark. Your state is home to almost 9,000 same-sex families,
according to 2000 U.S. Census data. These constituents also faced
devastating losses caused by the hurricanes, and I doubt they found any
humor in your jokes.

More than 1,100 rights, responsibilities and protections are denied to
same-sex couples without the right to marry. That means the same-sex
couples who lost loved ones in the hurricanes will be unable to receive
Social Security benefits as other spouses will. They won't get tax-free
access to their spouses' pensions. For families already facing hardships
from the hurricanes, they have these obstacles and more to confront. The
last thing they need is their elected officials mocking their
misfortune.

At the very least, the people of Louisiana are due an apology.

Sincerely,

Joe Solmonese

Human Rights Campaign President

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