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Here are some of the most openly anti-LGBTQ+ Republicans in Congress

Nearly the entire House and Senate Republican caucuses oppose equal rights. These 17 lawmakers take bigotry to an even higher level.

By Will Fritz and Josh Israel - June 02, 2023
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Aparna Shrivastava, right, takes a photo as her partner Shelby Teeter gives her a kiss, after President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.
Aparna Shrivastava, right, takes a photo as her partner Shelby Teeter gives her a kiss, after President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

For decades, Republicans have been staunch opponents of LGBTQ rights. A new report from the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that fights for the rights of LGBTQ people, shows that Republicans in Congress are still reliable “no” votes on equal rights bills.

The Human Rights Campaign issues an annual Congressional Scorecard, showing each member’s level of support for pro-equality legislation. During the 117th Congress in 2021-2022,  the Scorecard rated Republican Congress members’ support significantly lower than Democratic members’.

The average score was 5.7 out of 100 for Republican members of the House of Representatives and 10.1 for Republican members of the Senate, compared to 98.5 and 96.8 for Democratic members of the House and Senate. Overall, congressional Democrats voted for pro-equality legislation nearly every time it came up, and congressional Republicans reliably voted against it.

Republican opposition to advancing LGBTQ rights is not new; Republican members of Congress introduced the bill that ultimately was enacted as the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act — which restricted federal recognition of same-sex marriages — and the party made opposition to same-sex marriage a major piece of President George W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004.

Now, even as polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support LGBTQ rights, Republicans continue to oppose legislation that would protect them. In the 117th Congress, Democrats introduced the Equality Act, which would have banned discrimination against LGBTQ people in many contexts, and the Respect for Marriage Act, which requires governments at the federal, state and territorial levels to recognize same-sex unions. The former passed in the House of Representatives in February 2021 but did not advance in the Senate, while the latter did pass in both chambers and was signed into law by President Joe Biden in December 2022.

Only three House Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the Equality Act. Thirty-nine House Republicans and 12 Republican senators supported the Respect for Marriage Act, while the majority of GOP lawmakers opposed it.

More than 490 bills restricting the rights of LGBTQ people — and particularly transgender people — have been introduced in state legislatures during the current legislative session as of May 2023. Some of those include “Don’t Say Gay”  bills restricting discussion of gender and sexuality in schools that have passed or been introduced in multiple states and bans on trans people playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity.

Seventeen GOP lawmakers are particularly vocal in their attacks on the LGBTQ community. They have misgendered people, questioned the right of trans people to exist, attacked drag queen story times, and promoted the dangerous “groomer” libel, falsely tying LGBTQ people to child sexual abuse.

Sixteen of those 17 lawmakers earned ratings of zero from the Human Rights Campaign for the 2021-2022 session. Utah Sen. Mike Lee received a 5% score.

Indiana Rep. Jim Banks 

In October 2021, Banks misgendered Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, who is transgender, writing in a tweet, “The title of first female four-star office gets taken by a man.” In May 2023, Banks grilled a Biden administration Department of Education official on a rule change that would revoke federal funding for schools that ban trans women and girls from competing on sports teams that align with their gender, repeatedly asking Education Secretary Miguel Cardona if he supports “taking away school lunches from kids who go to schools where boys aren’t allowed to play on girls’ sports teams.”

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert 

Though Boebert’s campaign slogan is “standing for freedom,” Boebert’s record does not match it. In July 2022, she accused Levine of “grooming” children to become transgender and intentionally addressed Levine by her deadname, the name she used before she transitioned.

In August 2022, Boebert opposed drag queens reading stories to kids, tweeting, “Sending a message to all the drag queens out there: stay away from the children in Colorado’s Third District!”

This April, she misgendered transgender former college swimming champion Lia Thomas and sponsored an unsuccessful House resolution in March 2022 to declare that a swimmer Thomas had beaten in a race was the”rightful winner” and that the runner-up’s “first-place medal was stolen from her by a man competing in women’s swimming.”

While marriage equality has been the law in Colorado since 2014, Boebert says on her official House website, “I oppose efforts to redefine marriage as anything other than the union of one man and one woman.”

Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde

Clyde has also attacked Levine and Thomas. In March 2022, Clyde tweeted: “Rachel Levine is a biological male. Lia Thomas is also a biological male. Yet liberals applaud their accomplishments as triumphs for women — completely undermining legitimate women’s achievements. The Left’s war on women is dangerous, illogical, and flat out wrong.”

During a September 2022 House committee hearing on abortion rights, Clyde denied the reality that some transgender men can become pregnant: “This isn’t complicated. Let me tell you, if a person has a uterus and is born female, they are a woman. That is not a man, and the vast majority of the world considers that to be a woman because there are biological differences between men and women.”

South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan

In a 2013 press release that is still on his House website, Duncan blasted the Supreme Court for recognizing the validity of state-recognized same-sex marriages: “I’m disappointed in the Supreme Court’s ruling today against traditional marriage. This decision overrules a law that was passed by an overwhelming, bipartisan majority in Congress and signed by President Clinton. I will continue to fight for South Carolina values in Washington, which includes protecting the sanctity of life and traditional marriage, among others.”

In October 2022, Duncan retweeted a video of a drag performer at a Columbia Pride event from the anti-LGBTQ+ Twitter account Libs of TikTok, commenting: “What kind of parent would expose their child to this behavior? This is not normal, this is not okay. Classic groomer behavior.”

Virginia Rep. Bob Good

In 2020 Good, who calls himself a “biblical conservative and constitutional conservative,” ran against and defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman in a GOP nominating caucus after Riggleman officiated at a same-sex wedding. Good said during a debate with Riggleman: “He’s out of step with the base of the party on life. He’s out of step on marriage. He’s out of step on immigration. He’s out of step on health care, on climate, on drug legalization.”

Since taking office, Good has baselessly accused teachers of “grooming” children to become transgender and pushed to make gender-affirming care for minors a felony.

In a March appearance on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” Good said of transgender kids in schools: “God created us male and female. … We need to support children who are confused about that and help them to realize they have been perfectly created, male or female, and not support that confusion in a way that reinforces that confusion and certainly not in a way that doesn’t tell their parents and bring them into the equation.”

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

Greene’s campaign website claims: “America’s children are under assault from the forces of evil and their Marxist agenda. … They teach them anti-American Critical Race Theory curriculum in the classroom and facilitate the sexualization of our children with pornographic reading materials; groom them with the cult of transgenderism and Drag Queen Storytime; and advocate for gender-affirming care, leaving them permanently mutilated and scarred for life.”

Greene has repeatedly misgendered transgender people. She tweeted in June 2021, “Teaching racism and promoting sex, homosexuality, & normalizing transgender to children is mental/emotional child abuse.”

Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson

Jackson blasted the U.S. Marines in June 2022 for acknowledging LGBTQ service members during Pride Month, tweeting: “I’m sure the tyrants in China, Russia, and Iran are TERRIFIED after reading this post… Americans are SICK of this woke crap. The job of our military is to WIN WARS – that’s IT!”

That October, he complained the military is experiencing low recruitment because troops are being taught “transgender visibility.” In January 2023, he attacked the military again for being inclusive: “What this administration is doing to the military is a DISGRACE to anyone who’s worn the uniform. Gender pronouns and CRT brainwashing have NO PLACE in our military. Our military’s ONLY focus should be winning wars – THAT’S IT!!”

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan

Jordan, a longtime opponent of LGBTQ+ equality, introduced an unsuccessful bill in 2009 to bar the government of Washington, D.C., from recognizing same-sex marriages from states where they were legal. According to the Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun, Jordan said at the time: “It’s about affirming the ideal. Affirming that marriage is what marriage has always been. The ideal — when you think about raising future generations of kids, when you think about parenting, when you think about children — the ideal is a mom and a dad.”

On April 20, he tweeted: “President Biden thinks it’s ok for Lia Thomas, a man, to compete against your daughter in sports. Republicans just passed a bill to keep that from happening.”

Texas Rep. Chip Roy

In July 2022, Roy opposed the Respect for Marriage Act, saying: “Today, House members of both parties voted to recognize — legislatively — marriage beyond the longstanding bedrock institution of one man and one woman. They did so … a mere seven years removed from a decree by unelected Supreme Court Justices redefining marriage for the people.”

On May 18, 2023, in a statement sent to Fox News, Roy called on his party to block military funding in response to the Air Force celebrating Pride Month: “What’s next, rainbow uniforms during pride month? The Air Force and Defense Department sanctions this ridiculous use of taxpayer dollars and then expects members of Congress who represent Americans who are livid about this stuff to green light an $800 billion plus DOD budget. If DOD doesn’t put a stop to these kinds of divisive – and frankly embarrassing – DOD events, Republicans should pull support for this year’s [National Defense Authorization Act].”

Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn

Blackburn has repeatedly attacked LGBTQ people on Twitter. She misgendered Lia Thomas in a July 2022 tweet: “Lia Thomas lost the bid for NCAA’s ‘Woman of the Year’ — maybe they finally figured out she isn’t a woman?”

Blackburn made national headlines during the confirmation hearings of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson by demanding that the jurist define the term “woman.” When Jackson responded that she is not a biologist, Blackburn said, “The fact that you can’t give me a straight answer about something as fundamental as what a woman is underscores the dangers of the kind of progressive education that we are hearing about.”

In March 2023, Blackburn tweeted, “I want my grandchildren to learn the 50 state capitals, not 50 made up pronouns.” The next month, she said: “Our military should be focused on protecting our freedoms, not on woke pronouns.” She also claimed in an August 2022 blog post, “Democrats will keep using ‘gender justice’ to put up more barriers for women and erase gender altogether.”

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton

Cotton on May 23 attacked the Target retail chain over its displays of LGBTQ-friendly clothing for children, tweeting: “@Target’s leadership is doubling down on pushing the trans agenda on children. Families should remember when deciding where to shop. And Republicans in Congress should remember the next time @Target asks for help.”

In 2015, Cotton told LGBTQ people in Indiana that they should adjust their views of the rights they are entitled to amid a fight over the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which restricts the state’s ability to compel people to do anything that they claim violates their religious beliefs. Critics said the law would result in discrimination against LGBTQ people. Cotton told CNN: “I think it’s important we have a sense of perspective. In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz

Cruz has opposed allowing trans women and girls to play on sports teams that align with their gender. He has suggested that Anheuser-Busch should be investigated by Congress for having Dylan Mulvaney, a trans woman and social media influencer, as a spokesperson for its Bud Light brand. He once told a conference that he had responded to a college student’s introduction of herself with her pronouns with, “Well, I’m Ted Cruz, and my pronoun is ‘kiss my ass.'”

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson

Johnson has long opposed LGBTQ rights; he opposed same-sex marriage during his first run for the Senate in 2010. In 2016, in response to the mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Johnson tweeted, “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and the brave men and women who risked their lives to save others,” failing to acknowledge that the shooting was a hate crime against LGBTQ people.

During a virtual town hall in March 2022, Johnson said: “You shouldn’t allow biological males to compete against girls [in sports]. I mean, it’s just disheartening to the girls.” He also said: “We shouldn’t allow biological males to be going into women’s bathrooms. It’s creepy. It’s just not good.”

Utah Sen. Mike Lee

Lee has echoed claims that gender-affirming care for trans children constitutes “grooming.” In April, he tweeted lines from an opinion story on a Washington State conservative radio station site criticizing a bill that would help trans youth access health care. Among the lines Lee shared was: “Want to know where concerns over ‘grooming’ come from? Look at this bill.”

In May, he joined a wave of Twitter attacks targeting a Brigham Young University professor who has a trans child, commenting to his tens of thousands of followers, “Commonplace at most universities, but BYU?”

In November 2022, Lee authored an unsuccessful amendment to the Respect for Marriage Act that would have allowed discrimination against people under the guise of “religious liberty.” Lee’s amendment failed in the Senate by a vote of 48-49. The Respect for Marriage Act ultimately passed 61-36 without the amendment.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio

Rubio recently attacked Major League Baseball and the Los Angeles Dodgers over an LGBTQ charity drag group, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, that was set to appear at a home game Pride Night for the Dodgers. The group participated in the fight for awareness of and action against AIDS from its very beginning and has been a vocal supporter of transgender rights. In an open letter to the MLB commissioner, Rubio criticized the performers for what he called their “disgraceful imitation of Roman Catholic nuns.” The Dodgers rescinded the Sisters’ invitation to their Pride Night before reversing themselves.

Rubio ran for the Senate in 2010 as an opponent of same-sex marriage, endorsing an effort in the House of Representatives to defend the Defense of Marriage Act; he told the Christian Broadcasting Network in 2015: “There is no federal constitutional right to same sex marriage. There isn’t such a right. You have to have a ridiculous reading of the U.S. Constitution to reach the conclusion that people have a right to marry someone of the same sex.”

Florida Sen. Rick Scott

In February 2022, Scott released an “11-point Plan to Rescue America” that included a proposal to ban trans women and girls from competing on sports teams that align with their gender and a claim that acknowledging more than two genders constitutes a denial of science.

In April 2022, he suggested that businesses should not advocate for LGBTQ rights, saying in a tweet: “Companies like Disney, Coke and Delta should be focusing on their customers not engaging in political fights. The woke culture that is poisoning corporate America is just another consequence of Democrat leadership.”

In March 2023, Scott claimed on a Florida talk radio station that the military is “more focused on woke stuff than they are on being lethal,” and made the unsupported claim that a Navy warship had to stop a mission to “train everybody on transgender.”

Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance

Vance has a lengthy resume of anti-LGBTQ statements. In 2020, after the conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal law protects LGBTQ people from employment discrimination, he said in a tweet that was later deleted, “The conservative legal movement has accomplished two things: libertarian political economy (enforced by judges) and betrayal of social conservatives and traditionalists.”

Vance falsely told Tucker Carlson in 2022 that “Democrats are actually advocating to teach about sexuality and crazy gender theory to 7-year-old children, and on the other hand, they get offended if we throw around terms like ‘groomer’ to push back against it. Look, if you don’t want to be called a ‘groomer,’ don’t try to sexualize 6- and 7-year-old children. It’s really that simple.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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