Last edited: January 28, 2005


Senator Rick Santorum on the Hot Seat from a Statement Made to the Associated Press

National Public Radio, April 22, 2003
Morning Edition

Anchors: Bob Edwards
Reporters: David Welna

BOB EDWARDS, host: Gay rights groups are urging Republican leaders in the Senate to consider removing Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania from the Senate Republican leadership. In an interview with the Associated Press published yesterday, Senator Santorum compared homosexuality to bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery. NPR congressional correspondent David Welna joins me now.

What exactly did Senator Santorum say?

DAVID WELNA reporting: Well, Bob, Santorum was being interviewed by the Associated Press in relation to a Supreme Court case in which two Texas men are challenging Texas law against sodomy, and they were arrested. They were found in one of the menís home by police, and they contend that they were engaged in consensual gay sex. Well, Santorum told Associated Press if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery, you have the right to anything. And that was the remark that immediately prompted calls for his fellow RepublicansóSantorumís fellow Republicansóto at least repudiate his remarks, if not remove him from his post as the number three Republican in the Senate as a leader of the Senate Republican Conference.

EDWARDS: And has there been any response to that?

WELNA: There has not. Of course, the Senate is not in session this week. They will return next Monday. But a spokeswoman for Santorum stressed that Santorum has no problem with gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender individuals. But in terms of whether he would step down or not, nothing has been said.

EDWARDS: Some comparisons are being made to the remarks by Senator Trent Lott about Strom Thurmondís segregationist campaign for the presidency, remarks which led to Senator Lottís resignation as majority leader.

WELNA: Right. I donít know if this is necessarily going to lead to the resignation of another Republican Senate leader. Making remarks seen as racially insensitive in this country could be much more explosive than making remarks about gays that are seen as offensive.

EDWARDS: Does Senator Santorum have plans to make anymore speeches, appear before any groups, anything like that?

WELNA: Iím not sure. Santorum, of course, has a reputation in the Senate as being somebody whoís not overly cautious about the remarks that he makes, and he is known for some very brash statements. But I think that because he was talking about a pending case before the Supreme Court, itís a bit different from Lott who was at a birthday party for Strom Thurmond and was speaking off the cuff praising Thurmond essentially. Santorum has been very active in taking, I guess, what would be seen as moral stands in the Senate. He was the leader of an effort to allow religious groups to have government contracts. He backed down from that andóbut I donít know if weíre going to hear more on this from Santorum, but there will be more questions Iím sure.

EDWARDS: NPR congressional correspondent David Welna.


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