A committee in the United States House of Representatives has delayed a hearing on the national minimum wage after discovering anti-gay and sexist remarks a witness wrote 16 years ago.
Joseph Sabia, San Diego State University economist, was supposed to testify today for the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.
When they unearthed comments from 2002 on his blog, No Shades of Gray, however, they decided to postpone.
Several posts with these comments are archived online.
In in August 2002 post, he compared taxing the fast food industry for its bad health outcomes to taxing homosexual activity.
‘When two random men get together and choose to have sex, there is not an insignificant risk of infection and death,’ he wrote. ‘In gay sex, we have an activity that is clearly leading to disastrous health consequences. What rational person would engage in this sort of activity?’
In another post, Sabia said universities with women’s studies departments encourage young women to be ‘whores’.
He also wrote: ‘Feminist thought has taught young women that equality is achieved by acting like promiscuous sluts.’
Sabia addressed these writings in an emailed statement to Politico.
‘I regret the hurtful and disrespectful language I used as a satirical college opinion writer,’ he said.
He added, however, that now as an ‘out gay man… accusations of homophobia stemming from college nonsense I wrote nearly 20 years ago are hurtful to my family today’.
At San Diego State, Sabia is director of the Center for Health Economics and Policy Studies. His research focuses on ‘the economics of risky health behaviors, minimum wage policy, labor market discrimination against sexual minorities’, which he also mentioned in his statement.
‘My academic research has studied a variety of subjects, including discrimination against the LGBTQ community. My peer-reviewed scholarship on this topic brings me great pride.’
Deciding to postpone
According to Kelley McNabb, communications director for the committee’s majority, the decision to postpone stemmed from members being ‘uncomfortable moving forward’.
Democrats, though, are angry Republicans postponed the hearing entirely.
‘My Republican colleagues on the committee should have issued a strong rebuke disavowing this witness and let the hearing go on,’ said Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA).
‘It is unfortunate that this hearing will not be happening because of my Republican colleagues’ oversight of the repulsive views of one of their witnesses.’
The hearing was meant to discuss raising the hourly minimum wage to $15, something long advocated by Democrats.
San Diego State also released a statement in response:
‘The language and sentiments expressed in these posts are counter to the values of any institution which supports the principles of diversity and inclusion.
‘SDSU unequivocally rejects any sentiment which seeks to undermine or devalue the dignity of any person based on their gender, orientation, ability, or any other difference among people which has been an excuse for misunderstanding, dissension or hatred.’