A humdrum House debate over water pollution was disrupted Thursday when Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., declared that supporters of a pro-environment amendment were “the same people that would put homos in the military.”
The comment brought a quick reply from Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who rushed to the House floor and accused Cunningham of “gratuitous bigotry.”
“The time is over when I will let that kind of gratuitous bigotry go unchallenged,” declared Frank, who is openly gay. He said he wanted to “express my contempt” for the remark and demanded an apology.
Cunningham, however, refused to back down - or apologize.
He reiterated his opposition to allowing homosexuals into the military and said he had wanted to make the point that the same legislators that have supported gays are those supporting stringent clean water rules.
Frank said that was not the issue. He noted that since the first outburst Cunningham had “been very careful to say homosexuals” and not the derogatory term.
“I used the shorthand term and it should have been homosexuals instead of homos,” Cunningham conceded, although moving no further on an apology.
The brouhaha started after Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., introduced an amendment that would require military bases to submit to certain water pollution requirements.