Anti-gay comment made 16 years ago costs San Diego State professor appearance before House committee

San Diego Union-Tribune

Anti-gay remarks that a San Diego State economist made 16 years ago have sparked a political flap that led to the postponement of a congressional hearing on the minimum wage.

Joseph Sabia had been scheduled to appear Wednesday before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on the effects of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. But the session was postponed after it was learned that he had made anti-gay and anti-feminist comments on a blog he wrote when he was a student at Cornell University.

The remarks had been taken down, but they remained in an internet archive and were shared with committee members, drawing their ire.


Sabia apologized for the comments Tuesday, and San Diego State issued a statement saying that the old posts do not represent the university’s values.

This week’s controversy largely stems from remarks Sabia made online in 2002.

In a column that mocked liberals’ supposed love of taxation, Sabia said the right wing should respond by taxing and regulating homosexual acts.

“But first we have to mount the assault on Big Gay (no, I am not talking about Rosie O’Donnell),” Sabia wrote.

“We can tax gay nightclubs, websites, personal ads, sexual paraphernalia, and so forth. Talk about a sin tax!!! We can cripple gay-related industries and get them right where we want them. All gay clubs will have to feature huge, flashing warning signs like ‘CAUTION: Entering this nightclub may increase your chance of contracting STDs and dying.’ ”

In a subsequent column, he said the women’s rights movement had effectively encouraged young women to behave like whores.

“The chant of Gen. Y college babes might as well be ‘We’re here, we’re whores, get used to it!’ ” Sabia wrote. “No, most girls are not actually uttering those words, but the slutty sentiments are implicit in the standard female college behavior — wearing tight shirts and pants, getting publicly drunk, hanging on every guy around, and engaging in random sex.”


Sabia said in a statement Tuesday: “I regret the hurtful and disrespectful language I used as a satirical college opinion writer 20 years ago.

“I am a gay man in a long-term, committed relationship and these charges of homophobia deeply hurt both me and my family.

“My peer-reviewed professional work on veterans’ health, school shootings, discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, the opioid crisis, and the minimum wage are a more accurate representation of my more than 14-year career as an applied microeconomist.”

San Diego State also issued a statement, saying: “The language and sentiments expressed in these posts are counter to the values of any institution which supports the principles of diversity and inclusion.

“SDSU unequivocally rejects any sentiment which seeks to undermine or devalue the dignity of any person based on their gender, orientation, ability, or any other difference among people which has been an excuse for misunderstanding, dissension or hatred.”

Robbins writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.