Former S.C. Treasurer Thomas Ravenel today issued the following statement in response to homophobic rhetoric used this week at a political rally held by four of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Republican challengers:

“Our wallets and our pocketbooks – and the wallets and pocketbooks of our children and grandchildren – don’t care if our elected officials are black or white, male or female or gay or straight. So I have a simple question: Why should we?

America is $17.4 trillion in debt, our fundamental freedoms are under attack, our economy is stuck in neutral, our government-run schools are falling further behind the rest of the world and our military-industrial complex still thinks it can act as the world’s policeman.

Rather than substantively address these issues – GOP candidates want to make gay jokes.

Frankly there is no place for this sort of juvenile homophobia in a United States Senate race – and the Republican Party should be ashamed of itself for fostering such hateful, narrow-minded views.

In the same vein, though, I would condemn the bigotry Lindsey Graham has repeatedly demonstrated in banning openly gay soldiers from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. This discriminatory policy resulted in the discharge of roughly 114,000 servicemen and women from 1940-2011 – and many of these veterans are still waiting for their rights to be restored.

South Carolinians deserve a real debate this fall over who would best represent their interests in the United States Senate – but that debate is never going to take place until we acknowledge that all South Carolinians deserve to be a part of it.

Clearly the Republican Party hasn’t figured that out yet.

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