Rand Paul praises anti-gay pundit Star Parker in State of the Union response

The Kentucky senator praised Parker for giving up welfare but made no mention of her virulently bigoted views

Published January 29, 2014 3:34AM (EST)

Sen. Rand Paul                                   (AP/Reed Saxon)
Sen. Rand Paul (AP/Reed Saxon)

In his response to President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address, Sen. Rand Paul didn't say much worthy of note. For the most part, it was the same old pseudo-libertarian pablum we've come to expect from Kentucky's junior senator; he even lacked the self-awareness and taste to refrain from opening up with a paean to Ronaldus Magnus.

There was, however, one moment of Paul's speech that, innocuous though it may have seemed, provided a window into just how extreme some of his views really are, as well as how limited his conception of "liberty" really is.

In the midst of Paul's remarks, he told the story of one Star Parker, a former drug addict and welfare cheat who eventually decided to clean up her life, stop committing fraud, and start walking the straight-and-narrow. But Parker isn't just some ordinary woman whose story of redemption so inspired Paul that he wanted to share it with the world. On the contrary, Parker is a known quantity on the far-right fringe, well-known for her willingness to compare liberals and Democrats to the plantation and slave owners of the antebellum South.

Even more disturbingly, Parker has a long history of making severely bigoted and disdainful comments about members of the LGBT community, like the time she complained that gay rights activists had "hijacked the civil rights movement" and were "destroying black communities"; or the time she described liberals and gay people as "enemies of God" who should keep their identities "private"; or the time she compared marriage equality to chattel slavery itself.

Now, it's generally believed that Paul is prepping for a run at the White House in 2016, so perhaps a desire to secure the affinity of the most fervently anti-gay members of the GOP base can explain the senator's willingness to implicitly endorse someone with Parker's views. Or maybe Paul simply sees no problem with any of Parker's statements, and his understanding of personal freedom only extends to people who think and look and act as he does. We can't know for sure, although previous Paul comments may offer something of a hint.

Watch Paul's response below:

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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