GOP Rep. Scott Garrett is facing an unusual level of hostility for his anti-gay views, thanks in part to geography (his style of bigotry seems more out of place in the North Jersey burbs) and to his position as chair of a key financial subcommittee (Wall Street, once happy to do business with Garrett, now finds him repellent). It culminated in a major piece from Bloomberg Politics last week detailing how Garrett's rancor toward gay marriage has cost him donations from the finance industry and led to increased support for his Democratic opponent, former Bill Clinton aide Josh Gottheimer.
Now Garrett has responded with a statement detailing his views on gay rights, and it's not low-key. The choicest bit:
My colleagues and my constituents know that I am a devout man of faith, and therefore I support traditional marriage. But calling me names or implying that I have malice in my heart for any person or group of people is false and completely disingenuous. Was President Obama a bigot before he changed his view on traditional marriage in 2012 when it was politically convenient? Or Hillary Clinton? Or President Bill Clinton? Like all Americans who exercise their right of free speech and religion, I make contributions to people and organizations who share my beliefs on important issues, in this case traditional marriage.
For one thing, you don't usually see ultra-conservative congressmen compare themselves to Barack Obama. For another, Obama's views changed—Garrett's haven't. And unlike Garrett, Obama never said he wouldn't contribute to gay candidates for office (duh), so yeah, it's not much of a stretch to read "malice" into Garrett's heart. Hell, even other Republicans in Congress haven't taken Garret's side, which is why his refusal to donate to the NRCC because of its support for gay candidates was so notable in the first place.
Can a Republican sitting in a swing district in the northeast survive against an aggressive challenger in a presidential year while defending his retrograde feelings about gays? Soon enough, we'll find out whom voters agree with.