That fact didn’t stop Rogers from allegedly making inappropriate comments about homosexuals while speaking at a Jan. 23 meeting of the Board of Directors of the Alabama Association of Realtors in Montgomery. While at the mic, he reportedly “joked about how nice it was to be called ‘Honey’ and ‘Sweetie’ by a woman at an Atlanta restaurant rather than a D.C. men’s room,” according to Equality Alabama, a group that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender causes. He also allegedly said the nation’s capital was “a cross between Detroit and San Francisco.”
It’s not surprising that these observations would cause consternation for Equality Alabama Chairman Ben Cooper, who wrote an open letter to Rogers expressing his dismay at remarks that were “racist, homophobic and hurtful.”
Had Rogers known his audience, he would have known that AAR four years ago amended its code of ethics to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, lack of preparation is not the point.
The fact that a U.S. representative would think there was no harm in such comments gets into the realm of judgment. In this case, Rep. Rogers’ judgment left much to be desired.
More troubling yet is the fact that Rogers’ comments suggest that he needs to pay more attention to the diversity of his constituency.
In the letter Equality Alabama sent to the congressman, the group invited him to attend the “Vigil for Victims of Hate and Violence” at the state Capitol Feb. 16. That’s the 15th anniversary of the death of Billy Jack Gaither of Sylacauga, who was brutally murdered because he was gay.
Rep. Rogers should put that event on his calendar.