Republicans can’t just seem to stop saying stupid things. Thankfully, this time it’s not President Trump; instead, it’s Wyoming senator Mike Enzi.
While addressing a crowd of high school and middle school students, Enzi was asked “How do you plan to help Wyoming live up to its name as ‘The Equality State?”
Enzi’s response started out okay by saying the real problem is a lack of “civility.” Sounds good so far — homophobia is the basis of anti-LGBTQ violence, and homophobia’s far from “civil.”
Unfortunately, Enzi wasn’t quite smart enough to quit while he was ahead. Instead of shutting up and smiling, he continued talking:
We always say that in Wyoming you can be just about anything you want to be, as long as you don’t push it in somebody’s face. I know a guy who wears a tutu and goes to bars on Friday night and is always surprised that he gets in fights. Well, he kind of asks for it. That’s the way that he winds up with that kind of problem. I’d be interested in any solutions that you have for how we can make that work better. Again, everything can’t be done by law but there are other things that can be done too.
Thankfully, Enzi does seem to realize this sort of thing is bullying:
Say there’s a new student who comes to the school … Someone says ‘the clothes you wear are really dorky.’ Then they find out that all the lunch tables are set for different cliques and they can’t get into that.
We do things to people all the time; we bully them in very subtle ways. I guarantee it if you embarrass somebody, that they will remember it for life. It’s all about how you treat each other.
Enzi later apologized, claiming he used “a poor choice of words.” His apology also said he doesn’t believe “anyone should be bullied, intimidated or attacked because of their beliefs.”
That’s a funny way to put it; people don’t “believe” they’re queer — they are queer. Would Enzi say black people shouldn’t be bullied or attacked because they believe they’re black?
And, of course, let’s not forget that “they were asking for it” is a common defense from anti-LGBTQ bigots.
The one nice thing is that Enzi called up Larry “Sissy” Goodwin, the man he described in his anecdote. Goodwin told the Casper Star-Tribune:
We had a nice conversation. He offered an apology and I have no doubt to believe it was genuine. He was very genuine with his comments. I think we had a respectful dialogue. If anything comes out of this, we both agree that it’s opening a discussion and illuminating the issues to the benefit of everyone concerned.
Still, all this could have been avoided. To that end, we offer this helpful hint for any Republican lawmakers out there: If someone asks you about anti-LGBTQ violence, don’t offer justifications.