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Federal minimum wage vote delayed over witness’s 2002 “gay sex tax” blog

Federal minimum wage vote delayed over witness’s 2002 “gay sex tax” blog
[Photo: Andrew Van Huss/Wikimedia Commons]

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce delayed a hearing on the minimum wage after a Republican witness, Professor Joseph Sabia of San Diego State University, was reported to have penned a 2002 satirical blog post about junk food taxes that included a rant about the supposed dangers of gay sex.

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Sabia, who opposed a tax on junk food, argued that it made equal sense to target gay sex and nightclubs for taxation and regulation, citing the danger from HIV.

“Homosexual activity has been responsible for devastating health outcomes–deadly HIV, hepatitis B, and various other sexually transmitted diseases,” he wrote. “When two random men get together and choose to have sex, there is not an insignificant risk of infection and death. And if these infected men then go on to have sex with women, then you have women–and possibly children–who will be stricken with AIDS.”

Sabia made it clear in the blog post, apparently written while he was a grad student at Cornell University and captured by the Internet Archive, that he actually opposed taxes on both junk food and gay activities. But critics, including Democrats on the committee, quickly denounced the post as homophobic.

Sabia didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry from Fast Company, but in a series of statements to CNN he said he does “regret the hurtful and disrespectful language I used as a satirical college opinion writer 20 years ago” and that he is gay himself.

“As an out gay man in a long-term committed relationship, charges of ‘homophobia’ because of my satirical college writings are deeply hurtful to my family,” Sabia told CNN. “And my record of academic scholarship on discrimination against LGBQT individuals reflects my commitment to social justice.”

Another Sabia post from the same era repeatedly compared college women to prostitutes.

“Today’s college girl looks to Ally McBeal, the trollops of Sex in the City, and the floozies on Friends to set their moral compasses,” he wrote. “The sad truth is that college girls are so desperate to find love that they are willing to degrade themselves to get it. But true love can only be understood in the context of the Word of God. Any other notion of ‘love’ is secular and, by definition, limited and finite.”

The economics professor was scheduled to speak about the potential consequences to workers and small businesses of raising the federal minimum wage. Republicans generally oppose Democratic proposals to boost the wage to $15 per hour. Sabia has cowritten papers on the minimum wage, including a recent study finding that “raising the tipped minimum cash wage is a poorly targeted policy to deliver income to poor restaurant workers”; one suggesting a New York wage boost “reduced employment”; and a paper finding minimum wages don’t appear to increase alcohol-related teen driver fatalities.

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