Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi apologized on Tuesday for suggesting to a group of students that gay people should expect physical violence based on their clothing.
The remarks came last week as Enzi was speaking at Greybull High School during a Q&A with high school and middle school students. One student asked about LGBT protections in Wyoming, prompting the Republican to share a provocative anecdote.
"We always say that in Wyoming you can be just about anything you want to be, as long as you don't push it in somebody's face," Enzi said, in audio recorded by Greybull Standard editor Mathew Burciaga.
"I know a guy who wears a tutu and goes to bars on Friday night and is always surprised that he gets in fights. Well, he kind of asks for it a little bit. That's the way that he winds up with that kind of problem," he said.
Enzi argued that the government can't solve LGBT discrimination with a "one-size-fits-all solution," saying "what we need to have is a little civility between people."
LGBT-rights advocates including the Human Rights Campaign and the Wyoming-based Matthew Shepard Foundation publicly criticized Enzi for the remarks, leading the senator to apologize on Tuesday.
"I believe all individuals should be treated with respect. I do not believe that anyone should be bullied, intimidated or attacked because of their beliefs," Enzi said in a statement published by HuffPost.
"No person, including LGBT individuals, should feel unsafe in their community. My message was intended specifically to be about promoting respect and tolerance toward each other. I hope if people look at the entirety of my speech, they will understand that. I regret a poor choice of words during part of my presentation. None of us is infallible and I apologize to anyone who has taken offense. No offense was intended. Quite the opposite in fact, and so I ask for your understanding as well.”