HRC Pulls Kirk Endorsement Over Comment On Duckworth's Heritage

Tom Williams

The Human Rights Campaign on Saturday withdrew its endorsement of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) after he mocked the mixed race heritage of his opponent in the competitive Senate race, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), during a debate.

HRC President Chad Griffin wrote in a Medium post that Kirk's comment went "beyond the pale for our standards of leadership."

"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," Griffin said. "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."

Griffin said that HRC will now back Duckworth, who he said "as been a strong LGBTQ ally in the House of Representatives."

During a debate on Thursday, Duckworth, who lost both of her legs in the Iraq War, brought up her family's history of serving in the United States military. Her mother is Thai-Chinese and her father is a U.S. Marine whose family served the the U.S. military going back decades.

But when Duckworth said that her "family has served this nation in uniform, going back to the Revolution," Kirk replied by mocking her heritage.

"I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” he said.

Kirk later apologized for his remark and recognized Duckworth for her service and that of her family.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
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