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Kevin McCarthy on same-sex marriage: ‘I support the law of the land’

Republican leader pressed on views after Liz Cheney reversal

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Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (left) proposed in 2016 an LGBTQ amendment Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) helped to defeat.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), eager to capitalize on the U.S. government coming to the brink of a shutdown with Democrats in control of Congress, was thrown off on Thursday when asked about an LGBTQ issue in other news of the week.

In the wake of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) — now ostracized in the Republican Party for opposing former President Donald Trump — telling “60 Minutes” she “was wrong” to oppose same-sex marriage, McCarthy initially ducked when asked by the Washington Blade during his weekly news conference whether his views have changed.

“Look, same-sex marriage is the law of the land, and it’s what America holds and that’s the law of the land,” McCarthy said.

Pressed by the Blade on whether his views have changed, McCarthy repeated, “It’s the law of the land. I support the law of the land. I don’t see how that’s different. I don’t see how that’s news.”

McCarthy’s response leaves room for interpretation. To support the law of the land is to support same-sex marriage, but not exactly a ringing endorsement and would certainly be a different position for McCarthy.

The Washington Examiner reported McCarthy’s words in response to Blade questioning as him having “effectively endorsed” same-sex marriage. The Guardian reported McCarthy “stumbled through an answer” on the issue.

The Washington Blade placed a call to the Republican leader’s congressional office seeking clarification on whether McCarthy intended to signal he supports same-sex marriage with those words.

McCarthy — like Cheney, who once had a public spat with her lesbian sister Mary Cheney over same-sex marriage — has a record in opposition to same-sex marriage, having cast votes against it before his comments this week.

First seated as a member of the U.S. House in 2007, McCarthy missed out on key votes on same-sex marriage, including the Defense of Marriage Act and the Federal Marriage Act.

However, McCarthy as House majority whip in 2011 voted as a member of the congressional Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group in favor of taking up in court defense of DOMA, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriage, after the Obama administration declined to defend it. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA in 2013, before ruling in favor of marriage equality nationwide in 2013.

In a related vote on LGBTQ issues, McCarthy played a key role in defeating a 2016 amendment proposed by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) aimed at upholding an executive order against anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace among federal contractors.

The new comments demonstrate radically changed views since that time in the American public’s support of same-sex marriage. According to a Gallup poll in June, support for same-sex marriage reached a record high of 70 percent this year.

For the first time, a majority of Republicans, 55 percent said they supported same-sex marriage, the Gallup poll found. As pointed out by the Examiner, that’s nearly double the support from 10 years ago in 2011.

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Politics

Harris, other political leaders issue statements on Nex Benedict’s death

Nonbinary Okla. teenager died earlier this month

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Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old nonbinary student from Oklahoma, died on Feb. 8 after a fight at their high school. (Family photo)

Vice President Kamala Harris, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt are among the political leaders who have issued statements in recent days about the death of nonbinary teenager Nex Benedict after they were allegedly assaulted in a school bathroom after enduring months of bullying.

The 16-year-old’s death on Feb. 8 sparked outrage and questions about the high school’s response to the altercation, which had occurred the previous day. LGBTQ leaders who include Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson have called for federal investigations by the Justice and Education Departments.

Advocates pointed to the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies, particularly targeting transgender and gender-diverse communities, that have escalated in Oklahoma over the past few years, noting that they tend to increase the incidence of bias-motivated hate violence.

In their statements on X, which offered condolences to those mourning Benedict’s death, the vice president and White House press secretary also pledged solidarity with the LGBTQ community, while Pelosi took aim at “the anti-trans fervor fueled by extreme Republicans” and Pocan — who is gay and chairs the Congressional Equality Caucus — promised to keep fighting for “the dignity that nonbinary and trans Americans deserve. ”

Stitt, who in 2022 signed an anti-trans bill prohibiting students from using public school restrooms that do not match the sex listed on their birth certificates, wrote in his statement that “our hearts go out to Nex’s family, classmates, and the Owasso community. The death of any child in an Oklahoma school is a tragedy — and bullies must be held accountable.”

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Michael Knowles targets trans people and LGBTQ families in CPAC address

Pundit defended his infamous anti-trans remarks at last year’s event

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Michael Knowles speaks at CPAC on Feb. 22, 2024. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Right-wing commentator Michael Knowles began his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday by briefly addressing the “kerfuffle” over his proclamation during last year’s event that “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely.”

Widely interpreted as a call for violence against transgender people or the trans community, the remarks were denounced at the time by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who called them “shameful, hateful and dangerous.”

Looking back at the incident, Knowles told the crowd “I stand by the observation that men can’t become women.” The controversy, he said, is evidence that the country “is having an identity crisis” — primarily as a consequence of the “decline of religion in America.”

While “true freedom is a national policy based on what we know in our hearts as morally right,” as ordained by God, Knowles said a worldview that makes space for the recognition of LGBTQ people and their families is based on a “false” notion of freedom that privileges, instead, “liberation from all limits.”

He pointed to same-sex marriage as an example, arguing that marriage does not and cannot include unions between “a couple of men, or a couple of women, or three men and a billy goat, for that matter.”

Additionally, Knowles said, one may not claim the “right” to have a child, because “children are people and no one has a right to another person.” He then veered into criticizing the practice of purchasing “designer babies” on the “open market of the surrogacy industry.”

Medically assisted family planning is a symptom of America’s moral decline that is akin to abortion, Knowles said. “If we have the right to kill babies, surely we have the right to buy and sell them too.”

Knowles argued there are “trade-offs” to understanding freedom as a permission structure to identify oneself outside the cisgender male-female binary, or to build relationships and families that are not centered around heterosexual, procreative unions.

Allowing trans women to use women’s restrooms — or, as he put it, giving “men” the “freedom to use the women’s bathroom,” means that “women lose the freedom to have their own bathrooms.”

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Tuberville promotes anti-transgender sports ban at CPAC

Senator’s bill introduced Feb. 1

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U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) speaks at CPAC 2024 (Washington Blade photo by Christopher Kane)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – During an interview with right-wing talk show host Ben Ferguson at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) promoted a bill he introduced on Feb. 1, the Protection of Women in Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.

The legislation, which Tuberville acknowledged would not be brought to the Senate floor so long as Democrats have a majority in the chamber, would “prohibit any governing body recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee” from allowing transgender women to participate “in any athletic event intended for females.”

The senator accused the Democrats, “the socialist party” of “dividing the family” by “trying to bring gender together, because they think men can have babies now.”

Tuberville expressed frustration with Republican Senate colleagues who did not agree with his sports bill, recounting how he had asked some of them, “don’t you have a daughter?”

“Now they want to tear down sports,” he said, warning that opening women’s and girls’ teams to trans women and girls will result in injury.

Tuberville and Ferguson criticized a new policy adopted by USA Boxing in January, which they found insufficiently restrictive.

The organization’s new rules stipulate that minors “must compete as their birth gender” and in weight classes specified in the rulebook — but allows trans women older than 18 to compete in the female category if they have undergone genital reassignment surgery and agree to quarterly hormone tests for four years.

More transphobia from GOP’s leading candidate for N.C. governor

Taking the stage after Tuberville and Ferguson was North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, the Republican frontrunner in the state’s gubernatorial primary, who also spoke out against allowing trans women and girls to compete in athletics and proclaimed “men oughta go in their own bathroom, not the women’s bathroom.”

Robinson objected to press coverage of his anti-trans remarks during a campaign speech this month in which he said, “we’re going to defend women in this state,” which means “if you’re a man on Friday night and all of the sudden on Saturday, you feel like a woman and you want to go in the women’s bathroom in the mall, you will be arrested — or whatever we got to do to you.”

At a different rally, Robinson said those who “are confused” about their gender should “find a corner outside somewhere to go” to the bathroom.

Robinson accused “the leftist news media” of cherry-picking these statements in their coverage rather than his remarks about other subjects. “Whenever they mention my name, they mention it in connection with social issues,” he said. “According to them, I hate everybody.”

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