DeMint apologizes for saying unwed, single mothers shouldn't teach in public schools - - Columbia, South Carolina

DeMint apologizes for saying unwed, single mothers shouldn't teach in public schools

(Aiken-AP) Oct. 6, 2004 - Republican US Senate candidate Jim DeMint on Wednesday apologized for telling a newspaper on Tuesday unwed pregnant women shouldn't be allowed to teach in public schools.

In a debate Sunday with Democrat Inez Tenenbaum DeMint said openly gay people should not be allowed to teach in the state's public schools.

DeMint defended that remark during an interview with the Aiken Standard on Tuesday and said he would feel the same way about single, pregnant women who lives with a boyfriend teaching a third grade child. He said teachers should be held to a higher moral standard.

In a prepared statement Wednesday afternoon DeMint said he was speaking as a parent who wants the best for children. On Wednesday he released this apology:

Those of us who are parents know that feeling in your gut -- every time you drop your child off at school, it’s an act of faith. You trust a group of people – the principal, the teachers, even the janitors, with the most precious thing in your life – your children. And you just want what’s best for them. So as my wife often reminds me, sometimes my heart disengages from my head and I say something I shouldn’t – and that’s what happened yesterday. I clearly said something as a dad that I just shouldn’t have said. And I apologize. As a Senate candidate, it is my responsibility to present ideas and to answer questions in a way that will let people know what I will do as their U.S. Senator. I did not do that in this instance.

DeMint campaign manager Terry Sullivan says the candidate is a product of a single-mother family and is not opposed to a single mom teaching.

Some educators say a teacher's effectiveness in the classroom is more important than their personal life. Edward Hill, a third-grade teacher in the Richland One School District, says he was upset with DeMint's comments.

Some gay organizations want an apology from DeMint after he said gays and lesbians should not be teaching in the state's public schools. At the debate DeMint said he supports it a state Republican Party platform item that says gays should not teach in public schools. He says government should not endorse particular behaviors. Tenenbaum said that is a really bad thing and just un-American.

DeMint's comment came a week after a DeMint staffer was reprimanded for using a slur about lesbians in an e-mail.

Tenenbaum and DeMint will debate at WIS studios on October 18th. WIS encourages you to submit a question that may be used in the debate. The two are seeking to replace retiring Democrat Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, who has held the seat since 1966.

updated 2:20pm by Chris Rees

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