Pallone Admonishes Rep. Chris Smith’s Anti-LGBT Comments

Feb 3, 2015 Issues: Equality

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) released the following statement condemning the comments made by Congressman Christopher Smith (NJ-04) at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations.   Rep. Smith stated, "I am a strong believer in traditional marriage, and do not construe homosexual rights as human rights:"

“What is so troubling and inexplicable about Congressman Smith’s comments is that he makes a distinction between the rights of LGBT individuals and the rights of humans.  The day that we begin plucking certain categories of people out from under the protections of universal human rights because of who they are is the day we abandon our commitment to building a more just world.  As Pope Francis stated while discussing the impact of Catholic teachings on LGBT people, ‘It says they should not be marginalized because of this but that they must be integrated into society.’

“Congressman Smith is welcome to have his own opinions, but when he makes such an inflammatory statement in an effort to push the Administration into ignoring the rights of LGBT people as a matter of policy, it crosses the line.  Representatives in Congress must be promoting the expansion of human rights, not fighting to limit its definition to people that they deem to be appropriate.

“We are fortunate enough in the United States to have certain constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, but many around the world do not have even these basic rights.  So it is disturbing that on the same day that Congressman Smith, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, made his comments, 12 Nigerian men were arrested under Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act for being at an alleged LGBT wedding.

“In New Jersey we have a proud and vibrant LGBT community that makes innumerable contributions to the state, including in Congressman Smith’s district.  While we still have work to do to advance LGBT equality in the United States, we should strive to see the United States as an example of LGBT equality and universal human rights.”