WYOMING – A comment about the LGBTQ community reportedly made by Sen. Mike Enzi last week at Greybull High School is drawing criticism.
The Senator was allegedly asked by a student what he does to support that community of his constituents. In his response, he reportedly related an anecdote about if a guy wears a tutu to a bar he “kind of asks for it.” Multiple sources indicate the Greybull Standard newspaper had a reporter there, and has confirmed comments along those lines. One national source says the paper plans on releasing audio from the meeting.
Enzi’s spokesman Max D’Onofrio confirmed that Enzi was asked about federal protections for LGBT individuals, and said that the Senator responded with a message of respect for others and treating each other as you want to be treated.
“He also talked about how federal laws are not the answer to every problem and that people learning to live together on their own has a better and more lasting effect than policies made and enforced from Washington,” D’Onofrio said. “He talked about how many Wyoming folks take a live and let live approach to life, but we need to be conscious that everyone may not react the same way to differing value and belief systems. He advocates nothing but respect and civil treatment for members of the LGBT community.”
“Senator Enzi believes all individuals should be treated with respect,” D’Onofrio continued. “He does not believe that anyone should be bullied, intimidated or attacked because of their beliefs. This is a hot button issue and emotions can run high, but no one should take his remarks out of context or misconstrue them to mean anything but advocacy of kindness toward our fellow citizens.”
Enzi himself stated the following:
“I believe all individuals should be treated with respect,” Enzi said. “I do not believe that anyone should be bullied, intimidated or attacked because of their beliefs. Wyoming’s population is made so great by its mixture – and tolerance – of differing value and belief systems. Our live and let live approach is one of the great aspects of our state. It is important that our students learn that the importance of respecting all people and how it is incumbent on those in the communities we live in to treat others as you would want to be treated. It is such a simple lesson ? it is never permissible to hurt another. Hatred in any form is destructive to the very foundation upon which our society is built.”
The Wyoming Democratic Party has called on Enzi to apologize.
“Senator Enzi’s comment was not just inappropriate, it was ugly and indicative of a kind of backwards thinking that has no place in today’s society,” Wyoming Democratic Party Chair Joe Bartuo said. “It only makes matters worse that his remark was made to a group of young students. Let me be clear: no one deserves or is asking to be punished for simply being who they are. The Senator should already know that.”
The Shepard Foundation, founded following the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, has also condemned the comments.