A Republican Senator in Iowa surprised colleagues by using time set aside for free discussion to declare that society is “bamboozled” by portrayals of fulfilling gay relationships in the media, and comparing same-sex relationships to smoking.
Dennis Guth took to the Senate floor on Wednesday during the ‘points of personal privilege’ talks, in which Senators start the day by giving speeches on topics of their choice.
Mr Guth chose to talk about his concerns regarding homosexuality, which ranged from the health effects it has on his family to the possibility that it will end civilisation.
“How does same-sex relationships hurt you? This is similar to asking me how does smoking hurt you,” he said. “There are health risks that my family incurs because of the increase of sexually transmitted infections that this lifestyle invites. For example, there are more and more medical tests required before giving blood or giving birth.”
He claimed that discussion on these issues had been stifled, partly due to presentations of gay relationships in a positive light by the media.
He said: “The media, for the most part, has bamboozled us into thinking that having a relationship outside of the boundaries of monogamous, heterosexual marriage is positive, happy and fulfilling. Movies, television shows, articles and magazines abound with this theme, giving partial information to a vulnerable audience: our children.”
Mr Guth added that he would advise young LGBT people to change their “lifestyle”, saying: “If I saw someone going the wrong way on a one-way street, I would make every effort to stop and redirect them.
“It saves lives to have honest communication not only about the sexually transmitted diseases that shorten lifespans, but also about the deep loneliness that accompanies a life based on youth, beauty and sex,” he added.
He went as far as warning that “many civilizations have fallen” after failing to protect the traditional heterosexual family model.
The anti-LGBT arguments of Mr Guth shocked some of his fellow Senators.
Matt McCoy, an openly gay Democratic Senator, said he was “taken aback” by the speech.
“Much of what you heard today on the floor of the senate is warmed over rhetoric that has been invented by the Christian right, extreme groups,” Mr McCoy said. “What I heard today was ignorant and I know where it came from and I think that I am not gay by choice. I am not gay by choice, but I choose not to be ignorant.”
Mr McCoy’s words were backed up by Donna Red Wing, executive director of One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBT group, who said Mr Guth’s speech was “nothing more than a puppet regurgitating the rhetoric of the well-funded anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family. Don’t we, as Iowans, deserve better than this?”
In an interview later on Wednesday Mr Guth said he had no intention of retracting his statements.
Last week the Republican Party’s national committee voted unanimously to reaffirm its opposition to equal marriage, and to urge the Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, and the Defense of Marriage Act.
Former US presidential hopeful Rick Santorum spoke out against the idea that the Republican Party might support equal marriage, and said it would be “suicidal” if it did, while singer Kid Rock said that he supports equal marriage, and has spoken out to say that he was “fucking embarrassed to be a Republican”, because of some party policies.