The Human Rights Campaign condemned remarks made by Rep. Zach Wamp,
R-Tenn., who called homosexuality a "sickness," an "aberration" and a
"sin" that needs to be "controlled." Published in an Associated Press
article Oct. 20, Wamp also announced his support for an anti-gay
constitutional amendment which would deny same-sex couples any of the
more than 1,000 federal benefits and protections that come with a civil
marriage license and wipe out the limited protections that currently
exist for some same-sex couples and their families in the United States.
"Representative Wamp's comments are deeply hurtful, inaccurate
and should be retracted. He owes an apology to all Americans who
believe in fairness and equal rights for everyone in this country," said
HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg. "Not only has Representative
Wamp vilified and marginalized millions of Americans, he is advocating
amending our nation's most cherished document – the U.S. Constitution –
to permanently deny rights to gay and lesbian families."
According to the AP, fellow Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander
said in a statement that he finds a constitutional amendment
"We are pleased that Senator Alexander has distanced himself
from the views of Representative Wamp and we call on all members of
Congress to denounce the congressman's comments," said Stachelberg.
"It's time for our nation's leaders to send a message that such hateful
rhetoric has no place in our public dialogue."
The AP also reported that Wamp believes his "view of what policy
should be is based on the biblical values from the Old Testament
"People are entitled to their religious beliefs and they should
be respected," said Stachelberg. "However one's own religious views
should never be used to justify legal discrimination against gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender people."
In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association removed the word
"homosexuality" from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders, the handbook that psychiatrists and other mental health
professionals use to diagnose patients. Furthermore, the American
Psychological Association states, "for nearly three decades, it has been
known that homosexuality is not a mental illness. Medical and mental
health professionals also now know that sexual orientation is not a
choice and cannot be altered."
"Representative Wamp does a disservice to his constituents by
attacking gay people, not on what we know to be scientifically true, but
based on prejudices and stereotypes" said Stachelberg. "Gay men and
women in Tennessee make valuable contributions to their communities,
raise families, own homes, pay taxes and live their lives just like
other Americans – and their congressional representatives should be
making sure their families are protected like other American families."
According to the 2000 U.S. Census there are more than 10,000 gay
and lesbian coupled households in the state of Tennessee.
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