The Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Missouri has been thrust into the national spotlight following comments he made suggesting a woman can resist becoming pregnant after a “legitimate rape” — prompting LGBT advocates to decry not only his views on women but also his long history of opposition to LGBT rights.
Todd Akin, who’s seeking to oust Democrat Claire McCaskill from her seat representing Missouri in the U.S. Senate, raised eyebrows when he made comments in an interview that aired Sunday on St. Louis television station KTVI-TV after being asked if women who become pregnant as a result of sexual assault should have the option of abortion.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said. “But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”
The remarks ignited a media firestorm, particularly over the notion of what Akin would consider a “legitimate” rape. The next day, Akin apologized on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s radio show, saying his earlier remarks were “ill-conceived, and it was wrong.” Amid speculation that he would drop out of the race, Akin said he had no intention of quitting.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who’s leading Republican efforts to take control of the U.S. Senate, said Akin’s comments were “wrong, offensive and indefensible” and over the next 24 hours the candidate should consider what is best for him and people he’s seeking to represent in public office. The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has reportedly withdrawn $5 million in advertising planned for the Missouri race.
Akin has an anti-gay record as a six-term congressman representing Missouri in the U.S. House, where he has not only supported, but taken the lead, on measures targeting the LGBT community. He has consistently scored a “0″ on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual congressional scorecards.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Akin proposed an amendment in May — which the Republican-controlled panel adopted as part of major Pentagon spending legislation — to institute a “conscience clause” in U.S. code to allow service members to object to openly gay people in their ranks in the wake of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.
“The president has repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and he’s now using the military as campaign props to advance the gay agenda,” Akin said. “My sons and our sons and daughters didn’t volunteer to be part of some political agenda; they volunteered to protect our freedom in America.”
Last year, Akin introduced a committee amendment to expand the Defense of Marriage Act to prohibit military chaplains from officiating over same-sex wedding ceremonies and to bar same-sex marriages from taking place on military facilities. A similar amendment introduced by Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) this year was attached to pending defense legislation. Palazzo said during the markup that Akin helped write the legislation.
In 2006, Akin came to the House floor to decry same-sex marriage and suggested that countries that have allowed it have vanished as a result of that decision.
“From a practical point of view, to preserve our civilization and society, it’s important for us to preserve marriage,” Akin said. “Anybody who knows something about the history of the human race knows that there is no civilization which has condoned homosexual marriage widely and openly that has long survived.”
When legislation to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” came to the House floor in December 2010, Akin was among the House Republicans who were vocal against any attempt to repeal the military’s gay ban, saying the vote on repeal represented an attempt to impose a “social agenda” on the U.S. military during wartime as operations continue in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Over the course of the current Congress, Akin has voted for amendments affirming DOMA that have come to the House floor: the one offered by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) last year as well as one offered by Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) this year. He didn’t vote on the one offered by Steve King (R-Iowa) a few months ago.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, criticized Akin in a statement, calling him “one of the leading voices in the House working against the best interests of LGBT people.”