by Max Brantley
This takes a separate item. I reported not long ago that U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor had walked back the comment attributed to him in which he stated his belief that homosexuality was a choice.
In that same interview, Pryor had said — as he has many times — that he opposed gay marriage. News stories today have repeatedly labeled him as one of four Democratic U.S. senators who remain in opposition to marriage equality.
Just to be sure, after aide Michael Teague told me about Pryor's mitigating remarks on whether homosexuality is a chosen orientation or not, I still asked him whether Pryor remained opposed to same-sex marriage.
At 5:48 p.m., I received this e-mail from Michael Teague:
His position has not changed.
No surprise. So I confidently put a message on Twitter, responding to Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, when he tweeted a news report that Pryor was "silent" on gay marriage. Wrong, I confidently said, based on all his published statements and a re-confirmation from aide Teague. Not that I was happy to say it, but wanted the facts straight.
Somebody was wrong, all right. Me. And even wronger than I first knew. Pryor went beyond silence.
Because I later read this from a taped interview with KFSM/KXNW, Channel 5, after Mark Henry posted a Twitter note on it. Straight from the horse's, er, mouth:
“I would put me down in the undecided category,” he [Pryor] said of same-sex marriage. “I did talk with some friends of mine in the gay and lesbian community over the last week or so. We talked about this issue. We also talked about a question I received in the office not too long ago where they asked whether being gay was a choice or whether you were born that way. I told them, I said, ‘Honestly I’ve never really thought a lot about that.” Maybe a lot of people think about that. I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about that. But one of the things I hear from them is they feel very strongly that it’s not a choice for them, and I respect that. I’m not going to dispute that. I appreciate that, and I appreciate their honesty. For a lot of these people they just really open their heart to me and talked about some of the struggles they’ve had over the years with their sexual orientation. I respect that and appreciate their patience, and I appreciate their honesty.”
My apologies to Lt. Gov. Mark Darr for describing his remark as wrong.
My apologies to all for accepting anything from Mark Pryor's office at face value.
My apologies to Arkansas voters that, at this moment, this pitiful muddle is the best we can hope from a U.S. senator, who — despite his inconstancy — has a decent voting record and is, on the issues, leagues better than likely opponent Tom Cotton, the Club for Growth candidate. As tortured as Pryor's response has been, I"ll grant you that I think Mark Pryor a kind person who bears no animus to gay people.
But ... As I said before, those inclined not to like him in the first place will never believe him no matter where he comes down on this issue, or on guns or on just about any other hot topic. Can you blame them?
(To Pryor's credit, he said he leaned toward the "pro-life" side of the abortion debate. While he chose the slanted labeling preferred by opponents of women's medical rights, he did at least add that "there are circumstances where the woman should be able to make that decision." That's better than you'll get out of any Arkansas Republican.)