A Republican Senator has apologised after suggesting to school children that men in dresses are “asking for” violent beatings.
GOP Senator Mike Enzi, the senior United States Senator from Wyoming, made the claim while speaking to young students at Greybull High School, Wyoming.
When he was asked about his views on the LGBT community, Enzi said: “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.”
He added: “There a lot of things that don’t have a federal, one-size-fits-all solution… everything can’t be done by law.”
The Senator initially refused to comment on his comments, but issued a statement after more media outlets picked up the story.
He told HuffPost: “No person, including LGBT individuals, should feel unsafe in their community.
“My message was intended specifically to be about promoting respect and tolerance toward each other.
“I regret a poor choice of words during part of my presentation.
“None of us is infallible and I apologize to anyone who has taken offense. No offense was intended. Quite the opposite in fact, and so I ask for your understanding as well.”
The Senator’s claim that he does not believe in a federal solution on LGBT issues came just weeks after he urged Donald Trump to sign an anti-LGBT executive order.
Enzi was one of 19 Senators to sign a letter to Trump that claimed the legalisation of same-sex marriage means that “an executive order requiring federal government agencies to protect the right to religious freedom is necessary”.
A leaked draft of the order would protect people who discriminate based on “the belief that marriage is or should be recognised as the union of one man and one woman [or that] male and female refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy at birth”.
The letter bearing Enzi’s signature had claimed: “Highly-qualified faith-based organisations are being denied or they are declining to compete for federal contracts and grants because of their religious beliefs. (…) The threat of loss of accreditation or charitable tax status lingers in the wake of the United States Solicitor General’s comments upon the Supreme Court’s 2015 [same-sex marriage ruling] that the loss of charitable tax status was ‘certainly going to be an issue’.”
The letter continues: “We cannot be a country that financially punishes individuals for practising their sincerely held religious beliefs or decides which practices are a valid part of a particular religious tradition and worthy of protection.
“We appreciate your consideration of this request and look forward to working with you on this vital issue.”
The Senator’s claim that he does not believe in a federal solution on LGBT issues also comes after he authored a federal bill that would give adoption and foster-care agencies the ability to discriminate against same-sex couples.