WASHINGTON (August 9, 2006) - Less than a week after becoming the 170th Member of Congress to affirm that his office does not discriminate in its employment practices based on an individual’s "sexual orientation or gender identity and expression," Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) today rescinded his signature on the Diversity Statement.
"Every person deserves the opportunity to pursue their career and succeed - regardless of whether they are gay, transgender, or fit expectations for masculinity or femininity," said Riki Wilchins, Executive Director of the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC.) "We were surprised but pleased when Senator Santorum affirmed that his office does not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. We are disappointed by the Senator's new decision, and hope he will reconsider in the future."
The Diversity Statement is a joint project initiated in 2003 by GenderPAC and the Human Rights Campaign that has received bipartisan support on Capitol Hill from members of the House and Senate.
Sen. Santorum's signature came after a meeting the week of July 24th with Adrian Shanker - a volunteer field trainer with GenderPAC's youth program and student at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA - and three of his classmates. Shanker had previously lobbied his school administration successfully to add "gender identity and expression" to its own non-discrimination policies.
They also met with Legislative Aide Anna Mitchell. After the meeting, the Senator posed for a picture with the four students. A copy of the Senator's statement was faxed to GenderPAC at 7pm the evening of August 1. The signature was confirmed the following morning by senior aide, Robert Traynham.
At 4:45pm today, August 9th, the Senator again faxed GenderPAC a new statement that read in part, "To be clear, my office has not adopted the proposed 'diversity statement' nor the agenda of your organization...My name should no longer be reported as having adopted the 'diversity statement.'"
"I am very frustrated with my senator's flip-flopped message to his constituents," said Shanker. "Pennsylvanians deserve representatives that have a strong record in supporting equality for all. This latest move doesn't come close."
Currently 24 Senators, 145 Representatives - 19 Republicans and 148 Democrats - have endorsed the statement. For a complete up-to-date listing of congressional signatories by state, please visit http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=fgu5oxbab.0.ksyrkxbab.c9oyz8n6.7028&ts=S0198&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gpac.org%2Fcongress.