Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ), on Oct. 29, announced that it is pulling its previous endorsement of U.S. Senator Mark Kirk and endorsing U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth.
The move comes just days after the Illinois Republican senator made a controversial comment about Duckworth's racial heritage.
"Leadership is about more than the legislation one sponsors and the votes one casts," said HRC President Chad Griffin in a statement. "On Thursday night, Senator Kirk's comments about his opponent's heritage were deeply offensive and racist. His attempt to use Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth's race as a means to undermine her family's American heritage and patriotism is beyond reprehensible. Yesterday, Senator Kirk tweeted an apology that failed to adequately address the real harm and magnitude of his words. So today, following a vote by our board's committee, the Human Rights Campaign withdrew our support of Senator Kirk."
In an Oct. 27 debate, Duckworth said that her family had served in the military going back to the time of the American Revolution, to which Kirk replied, "I forgot your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington."
Kirk apologized Oct. 28, and Duckworth accepted on Twitter: "Thanks, Sen. Kirk. Let's honor my family's serviceand your ownby sticking to the issues for the final week."
But the controversy was apparently too much for HRC, which, according to Griffin, originally endorsed Kirk "because he has been a strong supporter of our cause time and again, scoring a 100 percent on HRC's most recent Congressional Scorecard. But events this week have gone beyond the pale for our standards of leadership."
Griffin added, "Attacking someone because of her race and ethnicity is inexcusable for anyone, but especially for a sitting U.S. Senator. The diversity of our movement is our greatest strength, and Senator Kirk's remarks were an affront to our most fundamental values. We have therefore voted to endorse Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who has been a strong LGBTQ ally in the House of Representatives, and HRC will contribute the maximum amount to her campaign. We look forward to working with her in the Senate to secure full federal equality for all LGBTQ Americans."
Griffin's complete statement is at http://bit.ly/2eQ5cD7.