% IssueDate = "12/11/02" IssueCategory = "Events" %>
is Under Fire Nationwide
Republican U.S. Senate Leader Criticized for Racist Comments
Bigot Once Linked Same-Sex Love with Addictions & Alcohol
"I want to say this about my state (Mississippi): When Strom Thurmond ran for the president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."
In the 1990's, Lott was shown to have been associated with the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group which replaced the dreaded White Citizens Council. He attempted to distance himself from the later organization when his association with it was highlighted, claiming he was ignorant of its racist purposes. He had previously addressed the Council, however, saying that its members "stand for the right principles and the right philosophy."
In a June, 1998 cable television interview with Armstrong Williams, Lott was asked by his host if he regarded same-sex love as a sin. He replied:
"Yeah, it is. You should still love that person. You should try not to mistreat them as outcasts. You should show them a way to deal with the problem, just like alcohol or sex. There are all kinds of problems, addictions, difficulties, experiences of things that are wrong, but you should try to work with that person to learn how to control that problem."
Lott's statements were contradicted by mental health experts. At its August 1997 convention, the American Psychological Association had overwhelmingly passed a resolution noting that there is no sound scientific evidence on the efficacy of "reparative therapy," which seeks to "cure" homosexuals. Nearly 30 years ago, in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association had removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
Then White House Press Secretary, Mike McCurray, replied vigorously to Lott on behalf of former President Bill Clinton. When asked what Clinton had thought of the Senate Majority leader's comments, the Press Secretary replied:
"He thinks that the American people understand how difficult it is to get business done in Washington sometimes when you're dealing with people who are so backward in their thinking. For over 25 years, it's been quite clear that sexual orientation is not an affliction. It is not a disease…And the fact that the Majority Leader has such views apparently, consistent with some who are fairly extreme in his party, is an indicator of how difficult it is to do rational work in Washington."