Congressman Smith: LGBT persons should be treated with respect and compassion

Concluding_debateCongressman Chris Smith (R-NJ-4), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Africa and Human Rights, responded to the controversy about a remark concerning homosexual rights and human rights that he made during a hearing last week on combating violence inflicted by the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigera with a statement issued to MoreMonmouthMusings:

“All governments have a duty to protect everyone and I am unequivocally opposed to acts of violence against anyone,” Smith said, “All individuals, including LGBT persons, should be treated with respect and compassion.”

While questioning Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Robert T. Jackson, Bureau of African Affairs, about the Obama Administration’s humanitarian and anti-terror efforts in Nigera, including work with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and whether the Administration has withheld aid and assistance from faith based organizations, “Christian or Muslum,”  Smith said,

“If I could, just for clarification, Mr. Jackson.  As you know, there are fundamental differences in the United States over the whole LGBT issue. I am a strong believer in traditional marriage and do not construe homosexual rights as human rights.      Others have a different view, and I certainly respect them.  But I want to know, has the administration, and I would ask for a clarification on this, has the administration’ s view on LGBT affected in any way or in any way hindered U.S. supprt to Nigeria to combat Boko Haram?” (emphasis added)

The phrase “do not construe homosexual rights as human rights” has been extracted from Smith’s question and used as a sound bite by pro-gay marriage activists and by Congressman Frank Pallone to portray Smith as a bigot and to create the impression that he was saying that homosexuals do not have human rights.  The phrase “others have a different view and I certainly respect them”  has been omitted from complaints about Smith’s remarks.

In his statement, Smith said that the attacks against him are regrettable political attacks that “have attempted to distort his position and extensive record defending human rights.”

First, Smith inquired if the administration’s view on LGBT, which differs from the Nigerian position, “affected in any way or in any way hindered U.S. support to Nigeria to combat Boko Haram?” Second, he asked, “… has the administration held back or in any way affected funding to the faith community, whether it be Muslim or Christian, in the dissemination of those funds to combat malaria or any of the other problems faced by Nigerians?”, including assisting Internally Displaced Persons.

Mr. Jackson said “there had been no impact.”

Smith said that his “interactions with African officials and religious leaders led to his questions about US policy in Nigeria. This is a war-torn country where the most horrific violence is perpetrated by terrorist groups, most notably Boko Haram. US humanitarian assistance is needed and sought not just by the government but by NGOs—including faith-based NGOs which often have the aid infrastructures and the trust of the people but which do not always agree with the policies of the US administration.”

“My record is consistent in demonstrating support for democratic rule and universally recognized human rights for all,” Smith said.  “It is unfortunate that political foes are using the volatile situation in Nigeria to distort my record and push their own political interests.”

Congressman Frank Pallone

Congressman Frank Pallone

Pallone, in a press release, said that Smith comments were “an effort to push the Administration into ignoring the rights of LGBT people as a matter of policy.”

A review of the video of the entire hearing and the transcript of Smith’s questioning of Jackson indicate that Smith was not, as Pallone asserts, pushing the Administration into ignoring the rights of LGBT people, but rather, getting the Administration on record that the issue of gay marriage, and where any governmental organization or NGO stands on the issue, is not impacting the distribution of humanitarian and anti-terrorism aid in Nigeria.

A group of Republicans supportive or homosexual marriage, Equality GOP NJ, released a statement on Friday that said Smith’s remarks are “completely outside the recognized global human rights framework, inconsistent with his solid pro life record, contrary to Catholic teachings regarding violence against LGBT people, and not at all reflective of the values of equality and inclusion that have been the bedrock of the U.S. Republican Party and the values of life and liberty that have been the foundation of American democracy.”

Kim Taylor, Vice Chair of Equalty NJ, at the GOP gathering in Atlantic City Feb 3, 2015

Kim Taylor, Vice Chair of Equality NJ, at the GOP gathering in Atlantic City Feb 3, 2015

“There is no greater violation of an individual’s human rights and no more tangible a threat to human rights universally than state-sanctioned violence against a living human being based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” the group said.

Clearly, Smith never said anything condoning state sanctioned violence against LGBT persons or anyone else.

At the Republican gathering in Atlantic City on Monday, MMM asked Kim Taylor, Vice Chairwoman of Equality GOP NJ if she had viewed the video or read the transcript of Smith’s remarks.  She said she had not and relied on others characterization of the remarks in the statement that she sent to MMM and other members of the press.

Over the years Smith has built a well-respected record advancing the protection of all human life and opposing acts of violence.  He has been a leader fighting on behalf of abused and/or disenfranchised people in the US, China, Vietnam, Russia, Eastern Europe, Northern Ireland and throughout Africa—including his signing a congressional letter to Ugandan President Museveni opposing legislation that would penalize a single act of homosexual conduct with a life sentence and a mandatory death penalty if the person is HIV-positive.

Posted: February 5th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Smith, Frank Pallone, Gay Marriage, Gender Equality, Marriage Equality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

9 Comments on “Congressman Smith: LGBT persons should be treated with respect and compassion”

  1. Jim Granelli said at 8:19 am on February 5th, 2015:

    That THAT Bobby Sue & Bob Perrin.

    As usual, liberals like to take things out of context.

  2. Deb Howlett said at 9:27 am on February 5th, 2015:

    Does Mr. Smith “construe” civil rights with human rights? What about religious freedom? What about the rights of women? Why was there a need to single out “homosexual” rights?
    It’s clear from the tone, and the words he chose, that Mr. Smith opposes LGBT rights as something less than human rights.
    If that is not the case, let him stand up against discrimination of LGBT people everywhere and then bask in the applause from “liberals” as well as more reasonable members of his own party.

  3. Congressman Smith: LGBT persons should be treated with respect and compassion | The Save Jersey Blog said at 12:45 pm on February 5th, 2015:

    […] By Art Gallagher | MoreMonmouthMusings […]

  4. Anony Mouse said at 1:03 pm on February 5th, 2015:

    @ Ms Howlett

    I think he has stood up in this statement

  5. Babs said at 3:22 pm on February 5th, 2015:

    Chris Smith has consistently voted AGAINST the LGBT Hate Crimes Act (Matthew Shepard), ENDA – LGBT Employment Non Discrimination Act, as well as most recently- VAWA, the LGBT inclusive Violence Against Womens Act!

    That is a very inclusive and consistent record of NOT respecting LGBT people and their rights!

    Smith cannot “weasel” out with ambiguous words … or just mention marriage … his clear and biased record speaks for itself!

  6. The Bayshore Bulldog said at 6:55 pm on February 5th, 2015:

    Who cares what this RINO has to say about anything? Once in a while he throws a bone to Values Voters and others opposed to the leftist pro-gay agenda. Other than that he is a tool for organized labor, and Obama’s favorite Republican. While I would never vote for any Democrat who runs against him, I do hope he is primaried next year. Steve Lonegan should run against him, he would beat Smith easily in any GOP primary.

  7. Tommy De Seno said at 1:12 pm on February 6th, 2015:

    This was a ham-handed way of phrasing a sentence, and it is something that will be held against all Republicans, just as “legitimate rape” was.

    But what the hell, Smith has nothing to worry about. He is in a gerrymandered district. He doesn’t have to be a good politician. He just has to be on the ballot.

  8. You mean said at 8:20 pm on February 6th, 2015:

    ham handed like Obama indicting Christians at the National Prayer Breakfast Tommy?

    Maybe you ought to be more worried about Democrats than Chris Smith.

    Besides, this issue is so low down on the totem pole and that’s the only kind of issues Democrats had last year. And, those kinds of issues failed with the voters.

    But the likes of Reuban Scolovino, Bob Perrin & Bobby Sue think they can recycle it just like Vinny Gopal recycled the same old tired complaints a few years in a row. And, they went no where.

  9. MoreMonmouthMusings » Blog Archive » Gallagher on Power and Politics this weekend said at 4:24 pm on February 13th, 2015:

    […] topic was Congressman Chris Smith’s commitment to human rights and his controversial comments regarding LGBT rights vs human rights last […]