GOP uses sex grooming to attack Democrats
The rapid escalation of public support for the rights of the LGBTQ community in recent years had assuaged much of the blatant homophobia in the country’s political discourse. But, in recent weeks, Republicans have returned to verbal and legal assaults on the community, sometimes employing baseless tropes suggesting children are groomed or recruited by gay rights advocates. Midterm election efforts aim to agitate the Republican base and fill the campaign coffers of its candidates, without providing evidence that a Democrat has committed a disgusting crime.
Nearly seven years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, rhetorical attacks and attempts to pass dozens of anti-LGBTQ laws nationwide have sent a signal of animosity to the community LGBTQ and especially transgender youth who have been targeted in many states.
Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow’s response to a suggestion that she wanted to groom children.
In Michigan, McMorrow had been one of three Democrats to drop an invocation that GOP state Sen. Lana Theis made in the Senate a week ago, during which she prayed for the children. “attacked” by the “forces”. After the walkout, Theis accused McMorrow by name in a fundraising email of wanting to “groom and sexualize kindergarten kids.”
In her response to Theis on the Senate floor, McMorrow called herself “the greatest threat to your hollow and hateful scheme.”
“Because you can’t pretend you’re targeting marginalized children in the name of ‘parental rights’ if another parent stands up and says no. … People who are different are not the reason our roads are bad, or health care costs are too high, or teachers are leaving the profession,” she said.
“We can’t let hateful people tell you otherwise to become a scapegoat and distract from the fact that they’re not doing anything to address the real issues affecting people’s lives.”
McMorrow said in an interview Wednesday that the fundraising letter required a public repudiation. “It was the end, I couldn’t just say nothing,” McMorrow said.
The viral attention her remarks received “sends a very clear message that we need to stand up and cannot be afraid to address social issues,” she added. “We need to talk about hate and identify it and say it’s ugly and disgusting and what that means as a diversion from other issues.”
Theis did not respond to a request for comment. But his characterization was consistent with other attempts to portray Democratic gay rights supporters as, at a minimum, helping pedophiles.
The new push goes against the decision of most Republican politicians in recent years to largely avoid the topic of LGBTQ rights, given widespread support from Americans. In 2004, the party organized several state campaigns against same-sex marriage in an attempt to boost participation in President George W. Bush’s re-election effort, but the nation’s views have changed dramatically since then.
Republicans have recently used language similar to Theis’s to attack critics who point to increased efforts to curtail protections for LGBTQ youth. They specifically referred to the notion of “grooming,” which is used to refer to adults who sexualize children.
A few weeks ago, like Florida Republicans were pushing legislation to ban discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms until third grade, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw made a statement. bold statement on Twitter about the measure that Democrats called “don’t say ‘gay’ bill.”
“If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you’re probably a groomer or at least not against the grooming of 4-8 year olds. Silence is complicity. That’s how it works, Democrats, and I didn’t make the rules,” Pushaw said. In response to a request for comment, Pushaw said Wednesday that she did not designate LGBTQ people as groomers “because groomers can have any orientation or identity.”
Critics responded with outrage while other Republicans made similar accusations.
“The Democrats are the party of pedophiles. The Democrats are the party of Disney’s predatory princesses,’ Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga) said in an interview she posted on Twitter. “The Democrats are the party of elementary school teachers, trying to transition their kids to elementary school age and convince them they’re a different gender. It’s a celebration of their identity, and their identity is the most disgusting, evil, and horrible thing that’s happening in our country.
The language echoes that of QAnon conspiracy theorists, whom Greene regularly endorsed during her time as a conservative provocateur before running for Congress. QAnon supporters believed powerful Democrats were running a secret child sex trafficking ring and President Donald Trump would reveal it.
“We are seeing the recycling of tropes; there are inescapable tropes that people use and this notion that a child learning in school is ‘preparing’ them to have a particular sexual orientation,” said Sharon McGowan, legal director of Lambda Legal, a national advocacy organization. LGBTQ advocacy. “I think we saw a complete disregard for some of the standards during the Trump era, there was a packed cheekiness like, ‘I’m not afraid to speak the hard truths;’ now they wear the most outrageous, offensive as a badge of pride.
McMorrow, the Michigan Democrat, draws a direct line to QAnon-inspired lies about the 2020 presidential election and the resurgence of anti-LGBTQ attacks.
“If people don’t trust the election, it very quickly opens the door to believing that the government is run by a satanist cabal of pedophiles and they will stop at nothing in the name of protecting children,” he said. she declared. “We don’t have a lot of time, we have to reach out to everyone and tell them, there’s hate and then there’s people who want to make government work, and that’s the choice.”
The groomer accusation is just one part of the revival of LGBTQ-focused battles popping up in campaigns across the country. Vernon Jones, a black Republican candidate for Congress in Georgia backed by Trump, recently argued that gay rights are not civil rights, erroneously claiming that a person can choose to “change from straight to gay.” to transgender and all these other genders”.
Several Republican U.S. senators pressed Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearing to define “man” or “woman,” a question meant to denigrate transgender or non-binary people.
“The fact that you can’t give me a straight answer on something as fundamental as what a woman is underscores the dangers of the kind of progressive education we hear about,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn (R -tenn.) .
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) pressed Brown Jackson on the legal basis for the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage, suggesting it was a flawed decision.
Blackburn State leads the nation in the number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced, according to data from Freedom for All Americans, an advocacy group that tracks such measures.
In Tennessee, many of the 31 bills introduced so far this year target transgender youth, including one that expands Florida’s bill restricting LGBTQ talk bill to ban statement mentioning education gender and sexual orientation up to grade 12. Another measure would allow school staff to disregard a student’s preferred pronouns if they do not match the gender on the student’s birth certificate. A third would create a separate marriage contract for opposite-sex couples, intended to publicly distinguish such marriages from same-sex marriages.
Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, said the trend was discouraging, but not surprising.
“It’s painful, but I didn’t expect the progress to be perfectly linear,” he said. “We take a lot of zigzags to get to where we’re trying to go as a community,” he said. “Even when you expect pain, that doesn’t mean it’s not painful and the anticipation can be pretty bad too. The right is very innovative and working very hard at the local and state level across the country. and I foresee many culture war battles for years to come.
Charles Moran, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that supports gay rights, said he was caught off guard by the recent onslaught of LGBTQ-focused legislation, but was not opposed to all of this, especially to the efforts to block the discussion. kind with children.
“Gender re-identification is not a gay rights issue,” Moran said. “You can be pro-LGBT rights and pro-parent rights. The far right would love nothing more than to say, “Look, we gave them the wedding and now they’re going after all of society.”
Moran said he doesn’t support the use of the term ‘grooming’ as some Republicans have – ‘it goes back to a time when people assumed if you were gay you were a pedophile’, he said. – he says – but he slammed Democrats for “screaming about these tropes who’ve spent the last four years calling me a Nazi for supporting Donald Trump.”
But Kate Oakley, senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, said while attacks on the LGBTQ community have never gone away, the scale and vitriol have increased recently.
“Climbing is new. Saying the silent part out loud is new, but the underlying animosity is the same fear we’ve seen,” Oakley said. “It’s just that they no longer feel the qualms of bowing politely.”
Caroline Anders contributed to this report.