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Lawmaker criticized for gay joke

A congressman refused to apologize Tuesday for a gay joke he told at a Republican Party function.

U.S. Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., joked during a Pulaski County Lincoln Club dinner Friday that President Clinton was being named "Gardener of the Year" by Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

Rogers said Clinton was getting the award "because he got the Bushes out of the White House, Flowers in the bedroom and pansies in the Marines." The joke refers to Clinton's defeat of President Bush, Clinton's alleged affair with Gennifer Flowers, and the presence of gays in the military.

Rogers issued a two-statement sentence Tuesday: "It was a joke and that's all it was. It is a joke that has been making the rounds all over Washington."

Donald Suggs, spokesman for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in New York City, wasn't laughing.

"I think that it's outrageous that someone who's there to represent a constituency that includes gays and lesbians could make such a statement," he said. "Statements like that are incompatible with holding office."

Rogers, who has been in office 14 years, has opposed allowing gays in the military.