Supporter Of Arizona’s Anti-Gay Bill Criticized For Jokes At Arpaio Roast

February 27, 2014 2:57 p.m.

This post has been updated.

A Republican state lawmaker in Arizona is defending jokes he made at a roast of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio as satire.

Excerpts of state Rep. John Kavanagh’s (R) jokes posted online Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) show that the lawmaker, who supported Arizona’s vetoed SB 1062 legislation, mocked concerns that the bill could have led to discrimination on the basis of religious liberty.

“I scoffed at that, until tonight,” Kavanaugh can be heard saying. “When a Muslim waiter serving up here, walked up to Sheriff Joe, wouldn’t give him his dinner because he said, ‘I don’t serve swine.’ ”

Kavanaugh also joked about Arpaio’s profiling of minorities.

“I’m not the federal monitor. How many Hispanics did you pull over on the way over here, Arpaio?” he asked.

Josh Glasstetter, the campaign director for the SPLC, told the Arizona Republic that “non-PC comments” are expected at roasts. But Kavanagh’s jokes “went beyond the pale” since he is an elected official, Glasstetter said.

Kavanaugh told the newspaper that he did not participate in the event as an elected official and added that his jokes do not reflect how he feels about minorities.

“I was roasting Sheriff Arpaio,” he said, as quoted by the Arizona Republic. “That was parody on him. That should be quite obvious …”

Listen to Kavanaugh’s jokes below:

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