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Hawley backs anti-LGBTQ congresswoman in Mo. Senate race

Vicky Hartzler introduced NDA amendment to ban transition-related health care

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U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), left, and Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler at campaign event on Feb. 12, 2022. (Photo via the Twitter account of U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO))

Speaking with reporters at the annual Missouri Republican Party statewide Lincoln Days event on Saturday at St. Charles Convention Center in St Charles, Mo., U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) announced he was backing Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler’s campaign to land the state’s other U.S. Senate seat.

Hartzler has a long history of attacking the LGBTQ community.

Her public animus first brought media attention in 2004 when, as head of the Missouri Coalition to Protect Marriage, she was a critical component of the successful campaign to install a statewide constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Her attacking LGBTQ Americans continued after her election to Congress in 2011.

During the early summer of 2017, as a member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, Hartzler introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDA), which is the annual defense policy bill, that would have banned the coverage of transition-related health care for transgender military personnel.

After a procedural battle that failed to get the amendment through the committee, Hartzler, with support from other anti-LGBTQ+ Republicans including now former Rep. Steve King (Iowa), Rep. Mo Brooks, (Ala.) now former Rep. Duncan Hunter, (Calif.) managed to get the amendment attached for debate and a vote on the House floor as part of the NDA. 

“This is different from somebody going in and having a cold,” she said during the floor debate.

The Hartzler Amendment was defeated by a 214-209 vote margin. Undeterred, Hartzler along with the powerful chair of the House Freedom Caucus and an ally of then-President Trump, Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.) lobbied then-House Speaker Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.), and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, (R-Calif.), to hold the amendment over as a separate bill for a House vote.

The speaker and the leader refused and Hartzler and Meadows approached the Trump White House. On July 26, 2017, Trump announced through a series of tweets that trans individuals will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.

Meadows later went on to leave Congress and was the last White House chief-of-staff for Trump.

In 2019 Hartzler held a reception in her Capitol Hill office for proponents of the discredited practice of conversion therapy. The reception was held as Rep. Ted Lieu, (D-Calif.) introduced a bill to ban the practice — Lieu’s offices are immediately adjacent to Hartzler’s.

This weekend for her newly announced run for Senate she released a transphobic campaign ad that attacks University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, deadnaming and misgendering the collegiate athlete.

The senator’s record on anti-LGBTQ animus is also lengthy.

Following the Supreme Court’s Obergefell marriage equality ruling, as a Republican candidate for Missouri attorney general, Hawley wanted the state legislature to exempt businesses and religious groups from participating in same-sex couples’ marriage ceremonies. At the time, gay rights advocacy group PROMO said Missouri law already permitted such discrimination.

Hawley falsely claimed at a Senate hearing for the Equality Act that it would force individuals, adoption agencies. In a profile written by GLAAD, it was noted that he also co-sponsored a bill targeting trans children from participating in sports; voted to support an anti-trans amendment tacked onto COVID-19 relief package; voted against COVID-19 relief that provided $2.8 billion to Missouri.

Hawley has also criticized the Supreme Court decision that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace. The court ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex, protects gay and transgender workers.

“You know, to me, for someone who has said, Justice Gorsuch, who said that he’s a textualist and an originalist, I just don’t see how you get there with that methodology,” Hawley told the Washington Examiner.

He also said of the Supreme Court decision that protects gay and trans workers: it “represents the end of the conservative legal movement.”

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Politics

Trump pledges to weaponize fed’l gov’t against trans Americans if reelected

Former president’s anti-trans proposals range from healthcare to education

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President Donald Trump (Washington Blade file photo by Lee Whitman)

Former President Donald Trump promised to weaponize the might of the federal government against transgender Americans if voters send him back to the White House next year.

He detailed the plans in a video shared on the platform Rumble, which is popular among conservative and far-right users.

Some would restore policies enacted during his administration by executive orders that were overturned by President Joe Biden, while other proposals were more extreme or would face an unclear path to implementation because they would require acts of Congress.

Trump began by inveighing against guideline-directed medical care for the treatment of gender dysphoria in minors — practices that are approved by every major mainstream American and international scientific and medical institution with relevant clinical expertise.

“I will sign a new executive order instructing every federal agency to cease all programs that promote the concept of sex and gender transition at any age,” Trump said, promising also to urge Congress to ban certain procedures for minors nationwide.

“I will declare that any hospital or healthcare provider that participates in the chemical or physical mutilation of minor youth will no longer meet federal health and safety standards for Medicaid and Medicare and will be terminated from the program immediately,” the former president said, referring again to healthcare interventions whose safety and efficacy has been demonstrated in hundreds of peer reviewed studies in scientific and medical journals.

Trump also said he would create a private right of action allowing for lawsuits against doctors and healthcare providers for administering or facilitating access to treatments for trans and gender non-conforming youth.

“The Department of Justice will investigate big pharma and the big hospital networks to determine whether they have deliberately covered up horrific long term side effects of sex transitions in order to get rich at the expense of vulnerable patients,” Trump said.

The former president then looked beyond healthcare, promising to erase trans people from schools and refuse to recognize them by the U.S. government.

“My Department of Education will inform states and school districts that if any teacher or school official suggests to a child that they could be trapped in the wrong body, they will be faced with severe consequences including potential civil rights violations for sex discrimination and the elimination of federal funding,” Trump said.

As part of credentialing for America’s teachers, messages promoting “the nuclear family” and child-rearing by “mothers and fathers” would be required, Trump said, adding that he would ask Congress to “pass a bill establishing that the only genders recognized by the United States government are male and female and they are assigned at birth.”

“The bill will also make clear,” Trump said, “that Title IX prohibits men from participating in women’s sports and we will protect the rights of parents from being forced to allow their minor child to assume a gender which is new and an identity without the parents’ consent.”

Trump concluded his message with the false assertion that gender dysphoria “was never heard of in all of human history” until “the radical left invented it just a few years ago.”

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Congress

George Santos to step down from committee assignments

Embattled gay Republican under pressure to resign

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Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) Screen shot via YouTube)

Republican Rep. George Santos (N.Y.) told House GOP colleagues on Tuesday that he will step down from his two committee assignments pending the resolution of investigations and possible law enforcement activity over his alleged financial crimes and violations of campaign finance laws.

Santos, who was appointed to the House Small Business and Science, Space and Technology Committees, neither of which are considered high profile, announced his recusal during a closed-door session following his meeting on Monday with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Today’s news marks the first sign that the many scandals with which Santos has been enveloped since his arrival to Washington may have fractured his relationships with and support from House Republican leadership.

Over the weekend, the Justice Department reportedly asked the Federal Election Commission to yield to the federal prosecutors probing Santos’ campaign finance activity, a likely signal that a criminal investigation is underway.

Santos is also the subject of a complaint filed to the House Ethics Committee as well as parallel investigations conducted by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The congressman has faced calls to resign, including from members of his own party, since it was revealed last month that he had fabricated virtually every part of his identity and biography.

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Politics

Trans Republican councilwoman says she is uniquely positioned to ‘protect our community’

LGBTQ Americans ‘need to be in the corridors of power’

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Trenton (N.J.) City Councilwoman Jennifer Williams. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Williams)

Note: Other portions of Jennifer Williams’ interview with the Washington Blade were featured in a previous article alongside interviews with four other LGBTQ officeholders

Jennifer Williams, who recently became the first LGBTQ person on the Trenton (N.J.) City Councilmember and the first openly transgender person elected in New Jersey, connected with the Washington Blade last week to discuss topics including how she reconciles her gender identity with her membership in the Republican Party.

While Williams is grateful for her broad base of support, including from progressive Democrats, it perhaps did not come as a surprise considering her record as a longtime LGBTQ advocate and public servant who chaired the municipal Republican Party in Trenton and served on the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment for 14 years.

Plus, Williams said in emailed responses to questions from the Blade that her views on LGBTQ matters are closer to those held by Democrats than by Republicans.

“If I have to put my views on LGBTQ policy issues in one mainstream bucket, I would clearly be more aligned with national and New Jersey Democrats on our rights, equalities and freedoms than the Republican National Committee’s platform and what some GOP leaders espouse,” Williams said.

“That important difference between the two major parties is why it is integral that I stay and fight against anti-LGBTQ bigotry and discrimination,” she added.

Williams sees her position as an elected official who is both trans and a Republican as an opportunity to effectuate positive change from within her own party.

“Other LGBTQ folks may not understand why I try to advocate on the right and in the Republican Party,” she said. “But all I know is that until I am no longer the first LGBTQ or transgender person [whom] many Republican leaders meet, we will always have to worry about legislative actions or executive orders against us.”

Williams said she is in a unique position, and one that is imbued with a big responsibility:

“If I can be effective in helping some bad Republicans rethink their opinions of who we are,” she said. “Maybe we can get some of them to ‘tap the brakes’ on anti-LGBTQ legislation coming down the pike.”

“I have a ‘particular set of skills,’” Williams added, “And I feel called to use them to help protect our community.”

The Republican Party was founded in the mid-19th century by abolitionists who sought to fight for individual freedoms, liberties, self-determination and happiness, Williams noted, even if some GOP leaders do not demonstrate those values where it concerns LGBTQ people.  

LGBTQ Americans “really do need to be in the corridors of power and at the table where decisions are made,” Williams said. “Coming from the same home state as Marsha P. Johnson, who did so much for us so long ago, I know how important my being a [member of the] City Council can be.”

Of course, Williams said, she is not alone. LGBTQ officeholders across the country are putting into practice the idea that representation is crucially important in the fight for equal rights no matter who they are or where they have been elected, she said.

“If we aren’t a part of our government, we cannot be a voice of freedom and of reason if and when issues regarding our LGBTQ [identities] come up,” Williams said.

Despite the proliferation of state and local anti-LGBTQ bills, particularly proposals targeting the trans community, Williams sees reason to be hopeful.

“What is exciting is that we have gone from [Virginia state Del.] Danica Roem being the first transgender person to be elected to a state legislature just over five years ago to where now, she is running for [Virginia] Senate and there are at least eight other transgender legislators,” Williams said.

The visibility of LGBTQ officeholders tends to encourage other members of the community to run for public office, she said.

“That is wonderful, and I think is what we need to duplicate and triplicate wherever we can,” Williams said, adding that the LGBTQ Victory Fund “is working very hard at this.”

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