FUMO APOLOGIZES FOR REMARK ON SENATE FLOOR
HARRISBURG, October 7, 2004 –State Senator Vince Fumo (D-Philadelphia) today apologized to the gay community for his use of a term regarded as offensive to gays during a conversation last night of the floor of the Senate.
Fumo delivered the apology through a phone call to Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News. The paper intends to carry a story in tomorrow’s editions.
Fumo made the remark in a personal conversation with Republican Senate leaders, not during the official proceedings of the Senate, but the remark was heard in the Senate chamber. Within a half hour, in a visit to the Capitol newsroom to discuss amendments to the gambling bill, Fumo told reporters that he made a mistake in his choice of words. He phoned Segal this morning to extend a further apology. Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer, (R-Blair) in the meantime had publicly called upon Fumo to apologize to the gay community.
"It was a very unfortunate word choice and Senator Jubelirer is correct in asking me to apologize. I am especially sorry about using the term because it is not the way I feel in my heart toward gays," Fumo said.
"No other public official in Pennsylvania has been more outspoken in support of gays than I have, and no one has a better voting record on gay issues than I do, and that is why I feel ashamed by the use of a term that is so contrary to my beliefs," he added.
Fumo, for example, was one of the few senators in 1996 to vote against a Pennsylvania law banning same-sex marriage. He has often obtained state funding for gay organizations and causes. He has also regularly received the endorsement of Philadelphia gay organizations in his Senatorial elections.
Fumo was upset Wednesday night because, despite assurances earlier in the day that Democrats would have an opportunity to offer amendments to a gambling-related bill, Republicans foreclosed debate with a parliamentary maneuver.
Fumo had intended to offer an amendment on the floor of the Senate that would prohibit legislators or their family members from having a financial interest in, or deriving any income from, a gambling enterprise. Their action prevented him from proposing the amendment. Senator Brightbill admitted to reporters afterward that he was concerned that Fumo’s amendment might embarrass some Republican Senators.
"I lost my temper in the heat of the moment because I had been lied to, and said something that I deeply regret. While I was wrong, Senator Jubelirer and Senator [Chip] Brightbill [the Republican leader from Lebanon County] were also wrong to do what they did. I believe they owe an apology to the people of Pennsylvania for failing to confront the issue of legislators’ relatives being able to enrich themselves through gambling," Fumo said.