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Once Upon A Time, Joe Walsh Loved Gays And Supported (Some) Abortion Rights

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Oct 26, 2012 4:00PM

Eighth District Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Illinois)

Today we know U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh as an ultra-conservative Tea Party politician with a tendency to say stupid things, especially racist and sexist things. He's known for saying things abortion to save the life of the mother doesn't exist thanks to "modern technology and science," or maybe for saying his opponent Tammy Duckworth only cares about outfits. His racially insensitive comments can offend multiple races within days. There have been times we've struggled to keep our "Today in Joe Walsh says stupid things" feature down to just one thing per day. The guy even defended Missouri candidate Rep. Todd Akin for his "legitimate rape" comments.

Well here's something you probably never thought you'd see the ultra-conservative Walsh say.

"If there's a more gay-friendly Republican around, I'd like to meet them," Walsh told the Windy City Times in 1996. Yes, in 1996 Walsh claimed to support gay rights and abortion rights. At the time Walsh was running against progressive Democratic Rep. Sidney R. Yates, who served the 9th Congressional District from 1949 to 1963 and from 1965 to 1999. The district encompassing a slice of the North Side and several North Shore communities has been represented by Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky since 1999.

The views that the Republican Walsh claimed to have at the time are pretty much the opposite of those the Tea Partier claims to have now. According to Windy City Times, this appeared in the gay newspaper Outlines in 1996:

Walsh also has indicated he would support gay rights, but Yates has taken a leading role on the issue for many years, IMPACT's Huebner noted. Walsh, endorsed by Log Cabin, said he would support ENDA and other federal gay-rights legislation, and would be willing to co-sponsor it. Like Yates, he opposes restrictions on gays in the military.

He supports maintaining current federal funding for AIDS-related programs and would favor an increase 'depending on how much money there is to go around for other diseases'; believes the federal government should 'lead an education offensive' to fight AIDS; favors reforming Medicaid but supports maintaining mandatory coverage for people with HIV/AIDS. He is undecided on same-sex marriage. He supports abortion rights in the first trimester; opposes federal funding of abortions; and supports increasing federal funds for research on breast cancer.

Let's see how that matches up with Walsh's views on abortion and gay marriage today. Walsh is pro-life "without exception" because, as we pointed out earlier, he doesn't believe a pregnancy ever threatens the life of the mother because... science. From the Chicago Tribune on Oct. 21, 2012:

"The more I researched and studied and prayed, I came to the belief that life literally begins at conception," Walsh said. "So once I got there, it was up to my government to protect that life. But the light bulb had to go off in my head."

Walsh is also against gay marriage, saying it is a religious as well as a "socioeconomic issue." Walsh argues that "male-female, two-parent households" produce children who do better in school, stay away from drugs and are less likely to be in poverty.

But Walsh argues it's not the social issues that voters are concerned about, but whether who they send to Washington can create jobs, cut spending and hold the line on the national debt.

Human Rights Campaign has issued Walsh with a score of zero.