Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, was booed this weekend by University of Wyoming graduates for referencing during her commencement speech “fundamental scientific truths” like the “existence of two sexes.”
Lummis, introduced as the first female senator elected to represent Wyoming, told an auditorium of graduates on Saturday that they woke up with “more individual freedom in the most creative, divinely inspired nation on Earth,” yet those freedoms are increasing being tested by examples of government overreach in the past few years.
“There are those in government who believe not that the Creator endowed us with unalienable rights, as the founders of our nation acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence, but that government created those rights and that government should redefine those rights, including our rights to freedom of speech, religion, property, assembly, and to keep and bear arms,” she said. “Even fundamental scientific truths, such as the existence of two sexed, male and female, are subject to challenge these days.”
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The crowd erupted with boos and heckling, and, in response, Lummis interjected, “I’m not making a comment on the fact that there are people who transition between sexes.”
“I personally question how under out Constitution we could forbid in-person worship services during a pandemic while labeling liquor stores as essential and keeping them open,” the senator said, continuing her prepared remarks with a smile. “And how the creation of a government disinformation board is not an affront to free speech.”
In a statement provided to Oil City News Sunday, Lummis said she apologizes to anyone who felt “un-welcomed or disrespected” while listening to her speech.
“My reference to the existence of two sexes was intended to highlight the times in which we find ourselves, times in which the metric of biological sex is under debate with potential implications for the shared Wyoming value of equality,” she wrote. “I share the fundamental belief that women and men are equal, but also acknowledge that there are biological differences and circumstances in which these differences need to be recognized. That being said, it was never my intention to make anyone feel un-welcomed or disrespected, and for that I apologize. I have appreciated hearing from members of the University of Wyoming community on this issue, and I look forward to continuing this dialogue.”
The school “supports and celebrates its diverse communities that collectively make us the wonderful place that we are,” university President Ed Seidel said in a statement.
Lummis is a former congresswoman, state treasurer and University of Wyoming graduate who has been prominent in Wyoming politics for decades.
The Associated Press reported that the speech was delivered in a community known for the murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in 1998, considered a watershed event in LGBTQ activism. A college town of about 32,000 people, Laramie leans left compared to the vast majority of Wyoming.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.