Kirk has apologized for his racially charged dig at his Senate opponent, Rep. Tammy Duckworth. That probably won’t be enough to salvage his campaign, which is already flailing. But it also wasn’t enough to deter the senator’s strangest backer: The Human Rights Campaign.
The LGBT rights group endorsed Kirk back in March. On Twitter today, HRC spokesman Brandon Lorenz defended its decision:
The HRC’s thin justification for its endorsement rests on his support for marriage equality, which he announced in 2013—long after many Democrats had already done so. (Duckworth, in fact, joined the House that same year as a pro-marriage equality Democrat.) Supporting Kirk appears to be a misguided attempt to shift the Republican Party to a more moderate stance on LGBT rights. But the Illinois senator is clearly an outlier; the GOP’s base sits much further to his right.
HRC’s refusal to rescind its endorsement won’t actually advance the cause of LGBT rights. It also provokes an obvious question: Whose rights are they actually defending? The LGBT community obviously includes many people of color, and their interests are hardly represented by a politician like Mark Kirk.