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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 4, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 45
HRC revokes endorsement of Republican Mark Kirk over racist quip
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HRC revokes endorsement of Republican Mark Kirk over racist quip

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

HRC announced on October 29 that it had 'taken the unprecedented step' of revoking the endorsement of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

Kirk is running for re-election against Democratic candidate Rep. Tammy Duckworth. In a statement, HRC said it originally endorsed Kirk 'because he has been a strong supporter of our cause time and again, scoring 100 percent on HRC's most recent Congressional Scorecard.'

However, at an October 27 debate Kirk made a racially charged quip that HRC found unacceptable.

In the debate, Duckworth - who lost both legs in combat in Iraq - recounted her family's long military history, saying that members of 'my family [were] serving on my father's side since the American Revolution.'

'I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,' Kirk snapped back.

Duckworth's mother is Thai, but her father was a US citizen whose family did, indeed, have a history of military service going back to the Revolution. Her father, Franklin Duckworth, was a US Army captain and Marine veteran who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

It took less than a day for Kirk to apologize for his remark, but it was too late.

'On Thursday night, Sen. Kirk's comments about his opponent's heritage were deeply offensive and racist,' HRC wrote in a statement.

'His attempt to use Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth's race as a means to undermine her family's American heritage and patriotism is beyond reprehensible. Yesterday, Sen. Kirk tweeted an apology that failed to adequately address the real harm and magnitude of his words. So today, following a vote by our board's committee, the Human Rights Campaign withdrew our support of Senator Kirk.'

'Attacking someone because of her race and ethnicity is inexcusable for anyone, but especially for a sitting US senator. The diversity of our movement is our greatest strength, and Sen. Kirk's remarks were an affront to our most fundamental values. We have therefore voted to endorse Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who has been a strong LGBTQ ally in the House of Representatives, and HRC will contribute the maximum amount to her campaign. We look forward to working with her in the Senate to secure full federal equality for all LGBTQ Americans.'

The Real Clear Politics poll average shows Duckworth leading Kirk by more than 13 points as of October 31. Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in Illinois by 16 points.

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