Rick Santorum "Clarifies" His Bruce Jenner Comments With Even More Offensive Remarks

DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 24: Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum speaks to guests at the Iowa Freedom Summit on January 24, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The summit is hosting a group of potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates to discuss core conservative principles ahead of the January 2016 Iowa Caucuses. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Two weeks ago, a potential GOP presidential candidate's comments on Bruce Jenner made waves because it was a somewhat surprising show of support from an unexpected source. This week, however, Rick Santorum's "clarification" of his Bruce Jenner remarks made clear that the right-wing politician, a vocal opponent of LGBT rights, did not actually have a breakthrough in his views on gender and sexuality — in fact, it served to highlighted the chicanery of conservative politics, especially when it came to this particularly thorny issue.

ICYMI, in South Carolina earlier this month, Santorum raised eyebrows when BuzzFeed News reported that the former Pennsylvania senator responded to a question regarding Jenner — who had just announced that he identifies as a woman — as such:

If he says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman. My responsibility as a human being is to love and accept everybody. Not to criticize people for who they are. I can criticize, and I do, for what people do, for their behavior. But as far as for who they are, you have to respect everybody, and these are obviously complex issues for businesses, for society, and I think we have to look at it in a way that is compassionate and respectful of everybody.

But on Tuesday, clearing the air on his thoughts on Jenner's identity, Santorum said on New Hampshire's Concord News Radio:

What I said was, I think you have to treat every person with dignity and respect, period. That’s the bottom line. And if Bruce Jenner says he’s woman then I’m not gonna argue with him. I know what obviously and biologically he is. That doesn’t change by himself identifying himself. His genetics and DNA isn’t changing, but out of respect, as you said, I’m not gonna argue if Bruce Jenner’s a woman with Bruce Jenner. I’m gonna treat him with dignity and respect and that’s what I said.

I suppose Santorum considers treating Jenner "with respect and dignity" means having to add that Jenner is not actually what he identifies as, because, well, Santorum can't well disappoint the legions of social conservatives who disfavor LGBT rights just as much as he purports to, can he? To me, Santorum is pretty much saying: "I support you coming out as identifying as a woman, but you are obviously and biologically not a woman."

After his remarks about Jenner — who, since his announcement, has become a national face of the transgender community — earlier in May, Santorum took to Facebook to explain that they were "meant to express empathy not a change in public policy," which leaves one wondering how he can express personal empathy for another but not have his public policy reflect the "compassion" he claims to have.

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Republican politicians' position on LGBT rights has indicated internal conflict on how best balance their conservative base as the nation finally comes around to marriage equality. Oftentimes, the claims to support gay people while bashing gay marriage becomes a blurry middle ground of sorts for GOP lawmakers — last month, Santorum said he would "love and support" a gay friend's marriage, but would not attend the wedding. Fellow GOP politician and official 2016 contender Marco Rubio took it a step further, saying that he doesn't agree with same-sex marriage but would attend that of a gay loved one

If such bizarre contradictions contribute little to the discussion on marriage equality, at least it provides material for a hearty chuckle or two.

Editors Note: Per Jenner’s stated preference, Bustle will continue referring to Jenner using he/his pronouns for the time being. We will follow his lead and make any changes to this policy as needed in the future.

Image: Getty Images

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