Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham wasn’t invited to the news conference called Friday to condemn his comments about “homos in the military.” But he showed up anyway, silently absorbed the criticism of his fuming fellow lawmakers, and then took to the microphone.
“To me using that short term was not wrong, but if it is offensive then I apologize and I will not use it again,” the California Republican said at the news conference called by the Human Rights Campaign Fund.
The conservative lawmaker caused a furor on the House floor Thursday during a lengthy debate on water pollution, when he objected to a proenvironment amendment and said it was championed by “the same people that would put homos in the military.”
Numerous Democratic lawmakers called for an immediate apology, but Cunningham refused.
That refusal prompted the Human Rights Campaign Fund, the nation’s largest lesbian and gay political organization, to call its Friday news conference and invite sympathetic lawmakers to attend.
Standing outside, with the Capitol dome behind them, Democratic lawmakers lined up one by one to condemn Cunningham’s words.
Cunningham appeared at the edge of the crowd while his fellow Californian, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, was in the midst of verbally tearing him to shreds. She didn’t pause.
“Duke Cunningham, who’s standing right here, has been racist, has been homophobic, has been outrageous and has disrespected his colleagues,” she said. She added that he should “seek some psychiatric help.”
Cunningham wasn’t given an opportunity to speak until hearing from seven more lawmakers and Peter Larson, a member of the Lesbian and Gay Congressional Staff Association.