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Tag: lgbtq

Far Right Issues Flood Of Violent Rhetoric On LGBTQ Community

A week’s worth of gun violence seems to have whetted the radical right’s eliminationist appetite—and much of it appears, once again, to be directed at the LGBTQ community:

  • In El Paso, Texas, after far-right trolls spread the bogus claim that a transgender person was the shooter in Tuesday’s massacre in Uvalde, thugs verbally and physically assaulted a transgender girl, calling her a “mental health freak.”
  • Further north in Arlington, a local pastor this week denounced the city’s support for its annual Pride events, claiming the Bible calls “homosexuals” criminals who should be put to death.
  • In Arizona, far-right troll Ethan Schmidt-Crockett posted videos in which he threatened to attack Pride displays at Target stores (as he’s done previously), and then filmed himself harassing workers at a JoAnn Fabrics store for their Pride display.

The mood at far-right chat rooms has grown more openly violent as well, particularly as white nationalists have embraced the Buffalo shooter and his eliminationist “replacement theory” motives—and the threatening rhetoric around Pride events such as the one planned in northern Idaho in June has sharpened. As this recent study warned, the previous year’s relative calm in terms of far-right violence is manifestly over.

Although the viciously bogus claim that the Uvalde shooter was transgender was quickly debunked, and several of its more prominent spreaders—such as Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar—deleted their tweets making the claim, it continued to spread anyway on social media, enjoying a robust zombie half-life as the trolls spreading it made plain that they didn’t care if it was a lie: They just wanted to scapegoat transgender people.

Moreover, its most prominent spreader—race troll Candace Owens—not only refused to delete the earlier tweets, but doubled down to her 3 million-plus Twitter followers:

FYI: The media still has not debunked the photo of the Texas shooter wearing female clothes (to which I was referring.)Instead they are trying to conflate it with the obvious internet hoax photos featuring a guy in a skirt in front of a trans flag.

No such photos exist, of course. The person she’s describing wearing female clothes in the widely circulated photos identified herself and denounced the hoax.

This didn’t stop the inevitable result of this kind of eliminationist rhetoric, either, whose entire purpose is to create permission for brutal violence directed at the rhetoric’s targets. In El Paso, it clearly inspired the men outside the city library, who first verbally and then physically assaulted a 17-year-old transgender girl named Tracey as she exited at the end of a night doing homework.

“Oh look, it has a dick,” said one of them. He then grabbed her arm and forced her to look at him as he said: “Yeah, you know they’re perverting kids instead of killing them.”

“I’m only 17!” she answered.

Another man sneered: “Yeah, you know it was one of your sisters who killed those kids. You’re a mental health freak!”

Tracey was able to escape on her bicycle. El Paso Police refused to take an assault report. She also is no longer able to talk to her counselor at a community clinic, after it shut its doors to trans teens when Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton made a legal finding that supporting transition is child abuse.

Meanwhile, in Arlington earlier this week, the pastor of a nearby Baptist church—one that has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)—denounced the city’s upcoming Pride events at a city council meeting, calling it an “abomination”:

I don’t understand why we celebrate what used to be a crime not long ago. In fact, Texas Penal Code, in Section 21.06, homosexual conduct, a person commits an offense if he engages in deviant sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex. In fact, that is still on the books today, even though Lawrence vs. Texas overruled that in 2003. But God has already ruled that murder, adultery, witchcraft, bestiality, and homosexuality are crimes worthy of capital punishment.

The pastor, Jonathan Shelley, is from Stedfast Baptist Church in nearby Hurst. The SPLC designated Stedfast Baptist an anti-LGBTQ hate group in 2021, based largely on Shelley’s incendiary rhetoric. The church recently was evicted from its building in Hurst because Shelley’s violent rhetoric violated his lease, and the owner refused to tolerate it.

In his sermons, Shelley has frequently called for death to members of the LGBTQ community, but he claims he’s not calling for vigilante killings—he only wants it done officially, at the hands of the state. In one sermon, he celebrated the death of a 75-year-old gay man in Wilton Manors, Florida, after a vehicle accidentally ran him over during a Pride event: “And, you know, it’s great when trucks accidentally go through those, you know, parades,” he said. “I think only one person died. So hopefully we can hope for more in the future.”

“You say, ‘Well, that’s mean.’ Yeah, but the Bible says that they’re worthy of death!” he continued. “They say, ‘Are you sad when fags die?’ No. I think it’s great! I hope they all die! I would love it if every fag would die right now.”

“And you say, ‘Well, I don’t think that’s what you really mean.’ That’s exactly what I mean. I really mean it!”

The same kind of vicious hatred also clearly animates Schmidt-Crockett in his Arizona jihad against commercial Pride displays. A longtime antimasking/anti-LGBTQ activist and troll who has a large following on Telegram, where he posts his deliberately provocative videos, Schmidt-Crockett this week has launched into making threats against stores that carry Pride celebration materials and displays—particularly Target, where he previously filmed himself taking down a Pride display, calling it “disgusting … it’s devil worship.”

He’s also posted videos and texts saying he’s “going hunting for LGBT pedophiles” and “non binaries,” saying ominously: “We’re hunting for you.” He also recently turned up as part of a white-nationalist “Groyper” contingent acting as violent counter-protesters at a Phoenix abortion rights protest.

This week, Schmidt-Crockett became primarily focused on stores with Pride displays. He first posted a video of himself threatening to harass Target stores in Arizona, claiming they were erecting “satanic pride shrines to children” in their stores, and claiming he and “my buddy Kyle” would be “exposing all the employees that support it.”

“We’re going to make massive scenes in every single Target store across Phoenix, Arizona, and we’re not going to let corporate poison the children,” Schmidt vowed in the video, posted on Twitter by Patriot Takes.

Schmidt told Target officials to “just perma-ban” him, because he intended to step up his confrontations to an entirely new level for Pride Month in June.

“So Target, just giving you a heads up, that we’ll be coming after you hard. Hard,” Schmidt promised. “You know, I’ve already exposed you guys pretty good, but this is going to be next-level stuff.”

He added: "If you support the LGBT agenda, you're not safe."

Phoenix police posted a vague tweet about the situation that seemed to create even more confusion: “We are aware of a video on social media that names a retail store. We are looking into this. Statements in the video may be concerning to members of our community. The store and it's security team are also aware of the video.”

On Thursday, Schmidt-Crockett posted a video of himself (again nabbed by Patriot Takes) entering a JoAnn Fabrics store and harassing its staff over the Pride materials on sale there. Muttering to his audience that the materials somehow promoted pedophilia, he began haranguing the clerk who answered his summons: “Does JoAnn Fabrics support pedophilia?” He describes his disgust after the clerk goes to summon security: “Pedophilia, I’m sick of it everywhere. Every single corporate store has been taken over by the agenda.”

As he departs, he points his finger at the clerk: “Pedophiles!” he says. “You guys support the LGBT agenda! You guys support pedophilia! JoAnn Fabrics supports pedophilia!”

The shift to a focus targeting the LGBTQ community with eliminationist rhetoric and then violence is the result of several long-term trends on the radical right, particularly as its street-level strategies have shifted after the January 6 insurrection. A recent study by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) warns of a looming likelihood that far-right organizing will revolve around LGBTQ events and political rallies in the near future:

As an election year with midterms as well as a number of key gubernatorial races, 2022 is likely to see a rise in organizing focused on the upcoming votes. There have already been examples of protests involving ‘Freedom Convoys’ expressing support for Trump and including voter registration opportunities at events, signaling the start of this evolution.

In addition to election-related mobilization, there may also be a resurgence of other recent drivers as well. With Republican officials launching a new anti-LGBT+ legislative push around the country, mobilization against LGBT+ rights may increase, even though coordinated organizing on this issue has not been a major feature of the political violence and protest landscape in which far-right militias and MSMs have engaged in recent years. Broader activity on the right is currently coalescing around the reinvigorated anti-LGBT+ legislative campaign, in addition to organizing against institutions and companies seen as ‘too supportive’ of LGBT+ rights.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

‘Libs Of TikTok’ Used Twitter To Target Over 200 Teachers And Schools

The Twitter account “Libs of TikTok” has dictated right-wing media’s anti-LGBTQ talking points in recent months, especially on Fox News. The account run by Chaya Raichik frequently targets LGBTQ content creators by misgendering individuals and inciting harassment, both of which seemingly violate Twitter’s policies against hateful conduct and abusive behavior. Amid rising social media attacks and legislation against the LGBTQ community, Libs of TikTok has celebrated schools shutting down their Twitter accounts after repeated harassment and praised right-wing politicians for criticizing education around gender identity and sexuality.

A Media Matters review of Raichik’s Twitter account found that Libs of TikTok has tagged or named at least 222 schools, education organizations, or school system employees in 2022, often directing users to harass an individual school district or teacher. In the last week alone, the account has targeted a school district, a middle school, and four teachers for teaching students about identity, sexuality, or other so-called “propaganda.”

Texas’ Austin Independent School District has been targeted in at least 18 tweets by the Libs of TikTok account. The tweets questioned the district's Pride celebrations and tagged individual employees.

On March 22, Libs of TikTok shared a letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to the Austin district that claimed celebrating Pride events with students was a “week-long indoctrination” and against Texas state law. Raichik wrote, “Omg. I’ve been tweeting about this district for 2 days. This makes me so happy.”

Just this week, Libs of TikTok posted another attack against the district, sharing a fake Facebook post that falsely claimed the district was giving elementary students homework on furries. This misinformation resulted in the district's Twitter account receiving replies accusing the schools of “grooming” students and claiming parents were pulling their children out for “crossing the line.”

Raichik’s targeting of Salem Keizer Public Schools in Oregon is another case study in this smear feedback loop. The schools were tagged in at least 12 tweets from Libs of TikTok between February 28 and April 5. Raichik attacked the school district over teaching a book that mentions instances of racism in U.S. history, announcing new policies that support trans students using chosen pronouns and bathrooms, and issuing pronoun pins to students and faculty.

Libs of TikTok then claimed Salem Keizer Public Schools was in “disarray” from the social media attention following the tweets. An April 4 tweet from the Salem Keizer account, which typically receives just a handful of interactions on its tweets, received hundreds of replies — many filled with anti-LGBTQ attacks and smears. Raichik mockingly called on her followers to continue harassing the district’s Twitter account, writing, “It would be really bad if everyone kept tagging them.”

In another instance of Libs of TikTok using Twitter’s platform for targeted harassment, Raichik shared a video in a thread of tweets on April 10 from a trans teacher on Instagram explaining how he teaches his students about identity. Raichik tagged the teacher’s employer and included the teacher’s Instagram username in her tweets. Users replying to Libs of TikTok argued that the teacher should not be allowed to work with children and declared that he is “another groomer that needs to be arrested and jailed for abusing and trying to indoctrinate kids into the sickness.”

The school blocked Libs of TikTok, deleted related tweets, and made its Twitter account private, likely due to the harassment received from Libs of TikTok supporters. Raichik celebrated, tweeting on April 11, “They aren’t coping well with all the attention.” The teacher’s Instagram account was made private as well.

Raichik also targeted a Florida teacher who said she'd rather lose her job than out any of her LGBTQ students to their parents. Libs of TikTok shared the video on March 29, which was then amplified by the website of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s The National Desk on March 30. The National Desk named the teacher’s employer, which said it was investigating the video. An article from right-wing outlet TheBlaze claimed the teacher had made her TikTok account private, “but Libs of TikTok saved a copy and posted it to Twitter.” (The account is now active with the video in question removed.)

Raichik’s Libs of TikTok account, which now boasts over 1 million followers, has already been suspended from Twitter twice in recent weeks for violating the platform’s rules against hateful conduct — and she has told Fox News, “I'm never gonna stop.” With previously banned accounts celebrating their opportunity to possibly return to the platform following Elon Musk’s recently announced deal to take ownership, Twitter should act now to prevent Libs of TikTok from continuing to drive harassment against LGBTQ teachers, allies, and educational institutions.

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

‘Pro-Business’ Wingnuts Laud Vindictive Crusade Against Disney Company

Right-wing pundits and figures lauded Republicans in the state for passing a bill designed to financially punish the company for its opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill

Republican lawmakers in Florida followed through with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ threat to strip Disney of its special self-governing status in the state, passing Senate Bill 4-C along party lines as part of their onslaught against the company for opposing the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. Conservative media pundits and figures celebrated DeSantis “laying waste to Disney,” saying SB 4-C, which could potentially cost taxpayers in the state $1 billion, was the result of the company “completely hew[ing] to the demands of the woke universe.”

The measure was signed into law by DeSantis on Friday, with DeSantis saying he was “not comfortable having that type of agenda get special treatment” in Florida. It will eliminate special tax districts in the state established before 1968 — a designation limited solely to the district in which Disney World has operated since 1967. Prior to 2022, Republicans did not oppose tax incentives for Disney in Florida, with DeSantis approving more than half a billion dollars in tax breaks for the company. That changed following the company’s eventual opposition to the Republican Party’s drive to eliminate discussions of LGBTQ topics from public education.

Some journalists have remarked on the apparent hypocrisy of Republicans — a party historically associated with corporate interests that regularly bills itself as pro-free speech — attacking a company for taking a stance on civil liberties. Appearing on CNN, Business Insider’s Linette Lopez remarked that this “punitive punishment for Disney not agreeing with Ron Desantis” showed the “GOP is changing its tune” on the issues once central to its identity.

In reacting to SB 4-C passing, right-wing media and figures placed blame for this latest escalation on Disney, a company that is listening to its employees by standing up for LGBTQ youth, rather than on the party bent on escalating its feud with one of the state’s largest employers. The same commentators continued their anti-trans and homphobic campaign of labeling supporters of LGBTQ inclusion in education and the media as “groomers,” falsely claiming Disney and its supporters thought “kids should be learning about sex changes and gender fluidity at the age of 8.” The vague wording of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law means that it could be applied to teachers and students well beyond age 8.

  • On Fox News’ Jessie Watters Primetime, guest host Brian Kilmeade claimed Disney had a “problem” with DeSantis because he “doesn't think kids should be learning about sex changes and gender fluidity at the age of 8.” Watters said DeSantis was “not backing down” and Florida was “punching back even harder” by stripping Disney of its special status, calling it a “stunning blow to the company.”
  • Later in the show, right-wing radio host Clay Travis said Disney had “just completely hew[ed] to the demands of the woke universe” by opposing the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, adding that “there's no reason for them to be trained in sexual orientation or taught it.” Travis said DeSantis was “going to throw a punch back at you, Disney, and you're going to have to take it.”
  • In an op-ed for Townhall titled “Laying Waste to Disney,” senior columnist Kurt Schlichter said Disney was “follow[ing] the urges and urgings of a bunch of blue-haired weenies with weird piercings who want to groom your children to make them gender non-binary, otherkin weirdos,” adding, “Ron [DeSantis] is not having it. Ron does not play that. Ron exercised his own kind of power.”
  • Matt Walsh opened an episode of his Daily Wire podcast by saying, “Now that the anti-groomer bill has been passed in Florida despite the pro-grooming efforts of Disney, Republicans in the state have moved on to punishing and exacting revenge on Disney. Some milquetoast conservatives are uncomfortable with this, but I think it's great.” Also during the episode, which is titled “It’s Time To Take Revenge On Disney,” Walsh claimed the company was “fully in favor of and committed to the sexual indoctrination of children” and had “proved itself to be an enemy of Florida parents and parents across the country and around the world.”
  • Right-wing radio host Joe Pags tweeted, “Maybe Disney should stop pushing sex, sexual orientation, sexual preference and gender ID. Kinda what got them to where they are to begin with right? Act like Walt is still alive.”
  • Brittany Hughes of the Media Research Center, a right-wing organization opposed to LGBTQ representation in the media, tweeted that “Disney chose to vocally and publicly side with radical leftists who want to teach other people's kids about sexual attraction and gender-bending,” adding, “Take them down.”
  • On the April 21 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said Disney had “ruined the greatest deal, the sweetest deal, ever” as part of the “clash between Gov. DeSantis and Disney over gender and sex education.” Doocy later chastised Disney leadership for opposing the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, saying, “If you are a stockholder of Walt Disney, you got to be wondering why have they gone so woke because this could impact my savings and stock holdings in your company.”
  • Later in the episode, Fox & Friends brought on Turning Point USA’s Rob Smith, who said, “Gov. DeSantis is really putting Disney, and by extension a lot of these other woke corporations, on notice that they really should not be involved in these sort of culture war issues that the left always wants to drag them into.” Smith claimed Disney’s vocal opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill was “really, really damaging Disney's brand” and claimed that “a lot of corporations are going to be looking at this and saying, when the next thing comes around, I'm not getting involved.”
  • Joseph Backholm, a senior fellow for the extremist anti-LGBTQ group Family Research Council, suggested that the bill was passed “all because they aren’t allowed to talk to six year-olds about sex.”
  • Federalist Senior Editor John Daniel Davidson wrote an article titled “Gov. DeSantis Is Right To Attack Disney. Republicans Everywhere Should Follow His Lead” in which he wrote Disney “should be prepared to pay a heavy cost” for “[coming] out publicly as a very real threat to Florida parents who don’t want their second-graders instructed about sexual orientation and gender identity.” Later Davidson applauded the state’s GOP lawmakers, adding, “Finally, DeSantis and Florida Republicans have taken the enemy at their word, and responded in kind.”
  • On the April 21 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, Fox News contributor Guy Benson claimed that “the left” had “bull[ied] institutions and corporations into following [its] will on various things” and asked if SB 4-C was “a way for Republicans in Florida to remind Disney, ‘Actually, hey, we have clout, too. And if you’re going to just, you know, thumb your nose at us, things might happen that you might not like.”

Printed with permission from Media Matters.

How Fox News Weaponized ‘Don’t Say Gay’ To Persecute Teachers

Republicans have long relied on right-wing media’s inflammatory rhetoric to mobilize their voters. But with Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, state Republicans have effectively deputized the most Fox-News-and-Facebook-addicted members of the party’s base to act on frenzied smears that LGBTQ teachers are “grooming” children.

Here’s the key legislative text from Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” law:

Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.

Republicans seem to have drafted the law to be deliberately vague. It does not define key terms like “classroom instruction,” “age-appropriate,” or “developmentally appropriate.” While some conservatives have criticized the “Don’t Say Gay” moniker applied to the law by saying it merely bans discussion of “sex and sexuality” or “sexual topics,” there is no prohibition on such content in the text of the bill. In fact, as the bill moved through the Florida legislature, Republicans blocked a Democratic amendment to replace the phrase “sexual orientation or gender identity” with “human sexuality or sexual activity.”

This vagueness in the law’s text means a wide array of topics may or may not be banned, as Vox’s Ian Millhiser noted:

May a gay teacher display a picture of their spouse on their desk? May a straight teacher do so? Suppose that a third grade student asks a teacher who the highest-ranking openly gay official is in the US government. Is the teacher allowed to respond with the correct answer (Pete Buttigieg), or do they have to blow off the question? What if a book taught in a high school English class has a gay character? Or what if the book has no openly gay characters but a parent reads the book and concludes that it has homoerotic undertones? If a second grade student has two mothers, may a teacher casually mention this fact in the same way they might mention any other student’s parents, or is such a thing forbidden?

But it’s the law’s enforcement mechanism, combined with that vague text, that most empowers the GOP’s right-wing-media-loving base – and imperils Florida teachers. The law lets parents respond to purported violations of its strictures by suing their child’s school district when they think that “classroom instruction” on LGBTQ issues has not been “age-appropriate.” As Millhiser notes, this mechanism “effectively turns the most squeamish, anti-LGBTQ parent in any public school into the bill’s enforcer.” And Fox, other right-wing outlets, and social media platforms are currently priming those parents to assume that any discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools constitutes an effort to “groom” children.

The Florida law effectively weaponizes that right-wing media audience against teachers and schools.

Propagandists at Fox and other Trumpist outlets frequently warn their audiences of the apocalyptic threat they claim that progressives pose to the country and to the physical safety of their viewers. Over the last year, a sizable fraction of this demagoguery has revolved around U.S. public schools, with participants assailing the purportedly genocidal teaching of “critical race theory,” then lashing out over school policies for trans students and the teaching of “gender ideology,” and finally suggesting that critics of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill wanted to “sexualize” and “groom” children and slandering LGBTQ teachers as pedophiles.

Fox prime-time hosts Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, two of the most powerful figures at the network, with an outsized influence on both its viewers and the Republican Party, have led this disgusting charge. Ingraham defended Florida’s law by describing public schools as “grooming centers” that are pushing “sexual brainwashing.” Carlson argued that teachers who discuss gender identity with kindergartners have sexually abused them and should be not only arrested, but physically assaulted.

Elsewhere in the right-wing media, the mere existence of LGBTQ people is defined as inappropriate “grooming” behavior.

This narrative is reinforcing the anti-LGBTQ frenzy consuming social media spaces on the right. On Facebook, right-leaning news and politics pages are dominating the debate and garnering millions of interactions while making “groomer” language a key facet of their work. On Twitter, the viral troll account “Libs of TikTok” has become a sort of wire service for Fox hosts to source anti-transgender and homophobic content related to teachers and students. The account recently appended the comment “any teacher who comes out to their students should be fired on the spot” to video of a man who says he told his fifth-grade students that he is gay after they asked.

These baseless accusations that the right’s political opponents are actually pedophiles overlap with – and at times become indistinguishable from – the QAnon conspiracy theory, which posits that a global cabal of leftists is engaged in large-scale child rape and sex trafficking, and that at some point in the future they will be caught and executed.

QAnon has crept unnervingly close to mainstream Republicanism over the last few years, even electing devotees to Congress. At its most benign, QAnon inspires conservatives to wallow in a rich and hateful alternate reality. At times, its adherents have attempted to fight back against the leftist cabal in real life, through terroristic threats and acts of violence.

Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law gives parents who are drunk on QAnon delusions or enflamed by Fox’s anti-LGBTQ obsessions a way to take action against the leftist “groomers” that Fox and Facebook have told them are threatening their children. And these extremists may soon be unleashed across the country in response to similar legislation in the works in other red states.

Printed with permission from Media Matters.

Rep. Greene Mocks Trans Pride Flag Outside Of Her Office

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga) has amped up transphobic attacks in multiple Twitter attacks, culminating in the Qanon congresswoman hanging a sign mocking a transgender pride flag Rep. Marie Newman (D-IL) put across from her office.

"Our neighbor, (Rep. Greene), tried to block the Equality Act because she believes prohibiting discrimination against trans Americans is "'disgusting, immoral, and evil,'" Rep. Newman tweeted. "Thought we'd put up our Transgender flag so she can look at it every time she opens her door."

Then, Rep. Greene retaliated with a similar Twitter post mocking Rep. Newman's original, boasting about displaying a transphobic sign that read, "There are two genders: Male & female. Trust the science!"

Twitter users rushed to defend Rep. Newman, who mothers a transgender girl, and blast Rep. Greene for her blatant, ignorant transphobia.

"Sickening, pathetic, unimaginably cruel," tweeted a fellow Illinois Congressperson Rep. Sean Casten, responding directly to Rep. Greene's tweet. "This hate is exactly why the #EqualityAct is necessary and what we must protect (Rep. Marie Newman)'s daughter and all our LGBTQ+ loved ones against."

Adding to the cruelty, Facebook took down Rep. Newman's post of her setting the transgender pride flag outside of Rep. Greene's office for "hate speech," while leaving up the QAnon congresswoman's.

"Facebook took down our video of me putting up the Transgender flag outside my office and labeled it as 'hate speech,'" Rep. Newman tweeted. "Meanwhile, they're still allowing Marjorie Taylor Greene's transphobic video to be posted. Supporting transgender Americans is NOT hate speech."

Rep. Greene's latest deplorable actions come as she has repeatedly attacked LGBTQ+ rights this week when discussing The Equality Act, which will be voted on Thursday by the House.

"The so called #EqualityAct is evil," she tweeted, while also making false assertions that the bill "destroys women's rights, religious rights, and rights of the unborn."

Then Rep. Greene made multiple transphobic statements, including: "(God) created us male and female." Adding that, "Men who dress and think they are women will have rights over all real girls and women."

Her disgusting, transphobic statements were just the beginning of her attacks on the bill, as she also introduced a hand full of amendments to the bill. One asked that the "entire text" of The Equality Act be removed and replaced with Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act-- an anti-transgender attack that would strip basic human rights from trans women and girls.

Chris Johnson on

All of the claims made by Rep. Greene-- including saying The Equality Act "has nothing to do with stopping discrimination against the LGBT community"-- are entirely false and rooted in nothing but hatred, homophobia and transphobia.

The Equality passed the House in 2019 but never made it to a vote in the Republican Senate controlled by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The bill is a top priority for President Joe Biden and is likely to pass the House again, but will be a "slog" in the Senate again, according to Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI)-- who reintroduced it last week.

Rep. Cicilline went on the SiriusXM radio show Julie Mason Mornings saying, "(The Equality Act has) bipartisan support by the American people" and "the only place that seems to be controversial is within the Republican caucus."

Republicans Are Suddenly Banning Books--Here's Why

As Daily Kos continues to cover, Republicans are more than happy to distract the general public from failures to lead amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals filling up? Spew anti-trans rhetoric. People can’t afford groceries? Don’t let trans folks change their birth certificates! Thousands of people dying from COVID-19 every single day? Let’s burn books.

And no, that isn’t being dramatic. A truly concerning number of conservatives have jumped on the train of trying to get books banned from school and public libraries, if not outright calling for texts to be burned. Many of these books involve (or were created by) people of color and LGBTQ+ people. As reported by The Guardian, many of the people and groups pushing this anti-book mission along are connected to “deep-pocketed right-wing donors.”

As the Guardian breaks down in an excellent, thorough deep-dive, you’ve likely seen these book ban stories framed as though it’s just concerned parents or residents who are speaking up at school board meetings. In reality, groups that at first seem like they’re local, grassroots efforts seem to actually be tied to—and backed by—conservative donors who carry some serious influence.

Moms for Liberty, for example, comes up. As the Guardian discovered, Moms for Liberty groups can be found on Parents Defending Education (PDE), and the groups wrote a joint letter to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona last spring. What about? Critical race theory, of course. PDE’s website also encourages people to run for school board positions as conservatives.

The president of PDE? Nicole Neilly, who once worked at the Cato Institute and served as the executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum. Cato, for the curious, is a right-wing thank tank co-founded by none other than Charles Koch. Meanwhile, the vice president of PDE, Asra Nomani, has made time to rally against books on none other than Fox News.

If attacking books by and about marginalized people hasn’t been an obvious enough mission, the ties between these seemingly local groups suggest a much bigger trickle-down of money, values, and influence. How many parents and teachers swept into this hysteria know this? It’s hard, if not impossible, to accurately assess that. But for the students who are having valuable books taken from them, the outcome is the same.

At this point, we’ve seen Republican elected officials push anti-book bills in order to keep the work of LGBTQ folks and people of color from the hands of young readers. We’ve seen public librarians essentially threatened and harassed over keeping age-appropriate, diverse books on the shelves. We’ve seen conservative school board members try to get young readers tattled on to their parents for checking out LGBTQ+ books from the school library. It’s sick, it’s divisive, and it’s pointless.

Make sure to check out the Guardian’s full deep-dive here.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Greene Denounces Christian Churches As ‘Basically Dead’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) on Sunday told a congregation that the "church is basically dead" in America because Christian churches have not been vocal enough with their support for right-wing policies.

Greene made her remarks in a speech to 412 Murrieta Church in Murrieta, California.

The church, led by Pastor Tim Thompson, recently hosted sermons on "the sin of homosexuality" and referred to activism against climate change as "the sin of earth worship."

The church has also attacked vaccination from COVID-19, with the video of the sermon against vaccination now removed from YouTube for violating that site's community guidelines.

In May of 2020, the church held services at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in violation of state regulations enacted to stop the spread of the virus.

In a video interview with the Sacramento Bee, Thompson stood in front of a banner depicting California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom as Adolph Hitler and compared Newsom's pandemic policies to Nazi Germany.

"In some ways, I think the banner with him wearing his Hitler mustache, it is appropriate," said Thompson.

On Sunday, Greene praised 412 Murrieta for their conservative activism but lamented that other Christian churches have not followed their model.

"The church all over America is silent. Our church is complacent. Our church is not the living, breathing body of Christ. The church is basically dead," said Greene.

"And this is why we have the America we have. This is why we live in a country that's murdered over 62 million people in the womb," she added. Greene opposes abortion rights.

Recent polling has shown that Greene's position on abortion is in the minority in America. A May poll from Pew Research Center showed that 59 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Greene also said that the purported silence of churches on conservative social issues is "also why we're living in a country that is destroying what is moral and right."

Greene cited transgender rights and complained that "transgenders can go into women's bathrooms and girl's bathrooms and sports. Rape centers and jails."

She also complained that transgender people, who she described as a "biological man in a dress" had "their rights above ours," a practice she described as "evil."

Greene has frequently advocated against transgender rights. In February she spoke on the floor of the House in opposition to the Equality Act, inaccurately describing the legislation that would add LGBTQ protections to federal law as "causing discrimination against women and religious freedom."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Right-Wing Poll Shows Democrat Winning Virginia Governor’s Race

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A right-wing group's latest Virginia poll found that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe is leading Republican Glenn Youngkin. After the pollster tried to sway voters with a series of fearmongering attacks on McAuliffe, voters still backed the Democrat.

The American Principles Project, a dark-money group led by organizers of the failed anti-marriage equality movement, released a survey on Friday of 600 Virginia voters it deemed likely to participate in this November's election. It found former Gov. McAuliffe leading former investment firm executive Youngkin 46.4 percent -- 41.3 percent.

"Many political observers are already carefully watching Virginia as a bellwether for next year's midterms, and judging from this poll, Republicans should be cautiously excited," the group's president, Terry Schilling, claimed in a press release. "Despite Democrats' recent dominance in the state, Glenn Youngkin looks to be very competitive, thanks to widespread disapproval with the radical left-wing agenda being pushed by President Biden on down."

No Republican has won statewide in Virginia since 2009.

Schilling urged Youngkin and Republicans to put anti-LGBTQ attacks, criticism of the state's public schools, and fearmongering about anti-racism education "front and center" in the campaign.

But the poll's findings undermine much of his argument.

Among those surveyed, Virginians widely approve of President Joe Biden's job performance, 53.9 percent -- 45.2 percent. That number is almost identical to Biden's 54 percent -- 44 percent victory in the state last November.

It also found voters prefer Democratic candidates for the state House of Delegates by a margin of 45.4 percent -- 41.1 percent. Democrats hold a 55-seat majority in that 100-member body.

Though none of the people surveyed said they work for "the Virginia school system," 50.39 percent said they approve of the state's K-12 public schools, while just 35.5 percent disapprove.

When pressed about school reopening during the pandemic, just 44.4 percent said they want schools "fully open without mask mandates for students" for the 2022 school year. The majority (54.9 percent) said either that schools should reopen fully with mask mandates or that schools should keep the option of virtual learning. Youngkin has been pushing for a total return to in-person learning, regardless of COVID-19 safety considerations, since March, well before even most adults in the state were fully vaccinated.

The pollster asked several questions, trying to play up Youngkin's support for public funding for private and parochial schools and his support for a ban on teaching about "Critical Race Theory." But a minority of voters said either issue would make them more likely to support the Republican.

After hearing the group's attacks on McAuliffe, voters were again asked who they'd back. McAuliffe still was ahead 45.8 percent -- 42.9 percent.

In a radio interview on Friday, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam — who is unable to seek reelection under Virginia's one-term-in-a-row limit — called attacks on anti-racism education a "dog whistle" being used "to scare people in an election year."

"Critical race theory," he told WAMU, is "a graduate level academic subject that is not a part of our K through 12 curriculum in Virginia. I'll repeat that. It is not a part of our K through 12 curriculum. And what I'm interested in and what our administration is interested in is teaching an accurate version of our history."

This is not the first time the American Principles Project has tried to inject far-right social issues into political campaigns.

Last year, it spent millions of dollars on ads attacking Democrats over their support for LGBTQ equality.

"Biden and his fellow Democrats have pledged to use the power of the federal government to destroy women's sports and push young children into highly experimental and dangerous sex-change procedures," Schilling claimed in September. "In the coming weeks, we will be making sure voters in Michigan and nationwide know the extreme agenda Joe Biden and Democrats want to impose on the country."

The group devoted half of its $4 million investment in anti-transgender attacks to trying to defeat Biden and Democratic Sen. Gary Peters in Michigan. Both won anyway.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.