So about three weeks ago Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was in St. George and may the following statement at a town hall meeting: “Gays and lesbians don’t pay tithing; their religion is politics." His point was that "Republicans need to organize and pull together just as unions, environmentalists, personal injury lawyers and gay rights activists do for Democrat candidates." (the latter quote is from the Salt Lake Tribune article, not from Hatch himself).
When several people wrote Hatch and the newspaper that his quote about gays and lesbians was offensive, Hatch tried to clarify his statement by saying, “Many gay people are vociferous Democrats who are willing to pony up money for politics. That’s something I admire...I don’t know how I could have been much more complimentary the way I said it...There are some very, very good gay people who are very religious who undoubtedly pay tithing. That wasn’t what I was talking about. I was talking about politics and praising them for getting involved. I was making the point that they don’t just stand on the side, they actually support their Democratic candidates with their money.”
You can read about his apology here.
Even if that was Hatch's point, I thought the way he said it was careless and clumsy. Shortly after he said it, but before he had apologized for it, I wrote him a rather spirited, but polite letter indicating why it was offensive to me even understanding the context in which it was said.
Today I received a letter from Senator Hatch. It was not one of his usual form letters that he often sends when I bring up an issue with him, and it appears to have been signed by him instead of a stamp of his signature.
The letter said,
Thank you for contacting me in reaction to a statement I made during a townhall meeting in Utah. I appreciate your sharing your views with me regarding this matter.
I apologize if you found my comments offensive, that was never my intent. My comments sought to demonstrate that many activist groups, such as the gay and lesbian community, are active in politics and contribute heavily to certain candidates. I recognize that my choice of words may not have been the best way to convey my point, but please know that I have the utmost respect for the members of the gay community. Furthermore, I recognize that religion plays an important role in the lives of many citizens regardless of their sexual orientation.
Again, thank you for writing.
Orrin G. Hatch
United States Senator
Orrin Hatch and I rarely agree on much politically, and it is very unlikely that I will vote for him his next reelection ( I haven't voted for him the last two elections he was up for office); and those reasons for not reelecting him have little to do with this. I will say it takes a big man to apologize when he knows he has made a mistake, and I appreciate his writing me to clarify himself and to admit that his choice of words was not the best. I quibble with his having the "utmost respect for the members of the gay community" while he still continues to fight against gay-rights, but I thank him for his apology and consider this particular matter closed.