Rep. Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelMichael Avenatti, please go away Election Countdown: Florida candidates face new test from hurricane | GOP optimistic about expanding Senate majority | Top-tier Dems start heading to Iowa | Bloomberg rejoins Dems | Trump heads to Pennsylvania rally Understanding Joe Manchin MORE (D-N.Y.) said some of his colleagues in Congress are "just as bad" in their lack of support for gay rights as vandals of a gay and lesbian center in his district.

Israel called for a national hate crimes hotline Thursday after the center was vandalized.

"I believe that the federal government woefully minimizes the number of hate crimes that occur in the United States. I want you to know that the U.S. Congress is with you," Israel said, according to Newsday. But then Israel added: "Some of my colleagues are just as bad as the people who did this."

Israel was not comparing his collegues "to vandals but to people who express sentiments that are strongly against the gay and lesbian community," spokeswoman Lindsay Hamilton later told Newsday.

Israel and Reps. Jos