U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has lost his endorsements from the Human Rights Campaign and Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC in light of the controversial comments he made last week about his Democratic challenger's family military service.
During last Thursday's U.S. Senate debate, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL,8), an Iraq War veteran who was wounded in combat and lost both legs, spoke about her family's history of military service dating back to the American Revolution.
In response, Kirk said to Duckworth: "I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington."
Duckworth was born in Thailand. Her mother is Thai and her late father was a U.S. Marine veteran whose family served in the military since the American Revolution.
After coming under fire for his comments, Kirk apologized to Duckworth Friday via Twitter: "Sincere apologies to an American hero, Tammy Duckworth, and gratitude for her family's service. #ilsen".
In revoking its endorsement of Kirk on Saturday, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBTQ civil rights group, released an open letter to its members and supporters explaining its decision. The Human Rights Campaign's President Chad Griffin called Kirk's comments "deeply offensive and racist."
"Attacking someone because of her race and ethnicity is inexcusable for anyone, but especially for a sitting U.S. Senator," Griffin wrote in the letter. "The diversity of our movement is our greatest strength, and Senator Kirk's remarks were an affront to our most fundamental values.
"We have therefore voted to endorse Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who has been a strong LGBTQ ally in the House of Representatives, and HRC has contributed the maximum amount to her campaign. We look forward to working with her in the Senate to secure full federal equality for all LGBTQ Americans."
The Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, a retired Navy Captain and astronaut, also revoked its endorsement of Kirk on Saturday.
The group's Executive Director Peter Ambler said "Kirk's racist attack on Congresswoman Duckworth is unacceptable and represents a low point, even in this election season."
"While we believe the path to responsible change and communities safer from gun violence must include Republican champions, we cannot continue to support Senator Kirk," Ambler added in a statement. "A man who is not worthy of your vote cannot be worthy of our endorsement. As Gabby and Mark wrote in August, Congresswoman Duckworth is an American hero and a powerful voice for stronger gun laws. She will be an exceptional United States Senator."