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RFK Jr. claims chemicals in the water are turning boys transgender

Democratic presidential candidate known for pushing conspiracy theories

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Screen capture/TikTok)

In a recently unearthed video interview, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the noted anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist and a Democratic challenger of President Joe Biden’s 2024 reelection bid, claimed chemicals in the water supply are turning boys trans.

“A lot of the problems we see in kids, particularly boys, it’s probably underappreciated how much of that is coming from chemical exposures, including a lot of sexual dysphoria that we’re seeing,” the scion of the Kennedy political dynasty said during an interview with Canadian psychologist and ring-wing pundit Jordan Peterson.

“I mean, they’re swimming through a soup of toxic chemicals today, and many of those are endocrine disruptors,” Kennedy said, adding, “there’s Atrazine throughout our water supply, and atrazine, by the way, if you, in a lab, put Atrazine in a tank full of frogs, it will chemically castrate and forcibly feminize every frog in there and 10 percent of the frogs, the male frogs, will turn into fully viable females able to produce viable eggs.”

“If it’s doing that to frogs,” he said, “there’s a lot of other evidence that it’s doing it to human beings as well.”

Kennedy, whose career has been defined as much by his membership in one of America’s most famous families as by his allegiance to dangerous conspiracy theories, has recently suggested pharmaceuticals have caused mass casualty school shootings.

“Prior to the introduction of Prozac, we had almost none of these events in our country and we’ve never seen them in human history, where people walk into a schoolroom of children or strangers and start shooting people,” he said earlier this month during an interview with increasingly right-wing Twitter CEO Elon Musk.

Research indicates Kennedy’s claims about atrazine are specious, at best.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, “When the general population is exposed to atrazine, exposure levels are expected to be very low.”

The agency wrote, “Maximum seasonal and average atrazine concentrations of 61.6 and 18.9 ppb, respectively, were detected during a 1993-1998 monitoring program of community water systems in the United States.”

“There was a possible association between atrazine use/exposure of male farmers and increased pre-term delivery, but not decreased fecundity,” the CDC wrote.

“Epidemiological studies, examining developmental end points, have found an association between Iowa communities exposed to atrazine in the drinking water and an increased risk of small for gestational age babies and other birth defects.”

At the same time, “Farm couples living year-round on farms in Ontario, Canada, did not
have altered sex ratios, and the risk of small for gestational age deliveries was not increased in relation to pesticide exposure.”

The video of Kennedy and Peterson was tweeted on Sunday by Mehdi Hasan, host of MSNBC’s “The Mehdi Hasan Show,” who pointed out that Kennedy’s comments echo claims by far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who said in 2015, “I don’t like ’em putting chemicals in the water that turn the freakin’ frogs gay!” 

Recent surveys have shown Kennedy earning as much as 20 percent support from Democratic respondents — but according to The New York Times, “the main reason voters liked him was because of the Kennedy name.”

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Congress

HRC ad campaign slams ‘extremist’ House GOP’s role in looming government shutdown

Funding deadline is Oct. 1.

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U.S. Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Human Rights Campaign launched an ad campaign on Monday slamming House Republicans for advancing anti-LGBTQ and other “out of touch demands” rather than working to clear must-pass spending bills before the month’s end to avoid a government shutdown.

In the weeks since Congress returned from the summer recess, opportunities to forestall this outcome narrowed with each passing day as small groups of the GOP conference’s most conservative members obstructed votes, led an open rebellion against House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and added anti-LGBTQ and other far-right amendments to all 12 appropriations bills, effectively dooming the prospects of their passage by the Senate.

HRC’s announcement of plans to run the six-figure blitz “across major national outlets, cable networks and digital streaming services” included a 30-second ad titled “Grind to a Halt,” which accuses House Republicans of “trying to limit the health care you and your family can access, ban books and flags, and block enforcement of civil rights laws.”

In a statement, HRC President Kelley Robinson said the conservative lawmakers had “hijacked the appropriations process to attack LGBTQ+ communities rather than doing their jobs,” noting that a shutdown would “interrupt critical government services, hurt working families and endanger our national security.”

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Congress

House GOP sinks their own spending bill, Dems object to anti-LGBTQ riders

Vote was 216-212

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U.S. Capitol
U.S. Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A group of four hardline House Republicans on Thursday joined Democratic colleagues to sink their own spending bill, a $886 billion military appropriations package full of riders from GOP members that include anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ provisions.

The 216-212 vote raised the likelihood of a government shutdown if lawmakers are unable to forge a path forward before the end of September.

“Instead of decreasing the chance of a shutdown, Speaker McCarthy is actually increasing it by wasting time on extremist proposals that cannot become law in the Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

His counterpart in the House, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), expressed frustration with his own caucus, characterizing the impasse he has reached with colleagues as “frustrating in the sense that I don’t understand why anybody votes against bringing the idea and having the debate.”

“And then you got all the amendments if you don’t like the bill,” he continued. “This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down — it doesn’t work.”

A group of 155 House Democrats on Thursday issued a letter objecting to anti-LGBTQ provisions in the bill, the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, addressing the message to U.S. Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chair and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chair and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.

The effort was led by Congressional Equality Caucus Chair U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and the co-chairs of the Caucus’s Transgender Equality Task Force, U.S. Reps. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).

Specifically, the letter argues several anti-equality amendments would “actively target LGBTQ+ service members and LGBTQ+ dependents and threaten the recruitment, retention, and readiness of our Armed Forces.”

Among these are riders prohibiting coverage of gender affirming healthcare interventions for service members and their dependents; banning LGBTQ Pride flags, drag shows and other events; and restricting funding for certain books in schools operated by the Department of Defense Education Activity.

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Congress

Senate confirms federal judge who fought for marriage equality as a lawyer

Three Republicans voted for Rita Lin’s nomination

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Judge Rita Lin (Photo credit: University of California, San Francisco School of Law)

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 52-45 to confirm Rita Lin’s nomination by President Joe Biden to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The first Chinese American woman to serve in the role, Lin previously fought for marriage equality as an attorney in private practice with the multinational firm Morrison and Foerster.

As co-counsel in a 2012 case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court, she secured the first ruling striking down the law, which proscribed marriage as exclusively heterosexual unions, since President Obama announced his administration would no longer defend it.

The Senate’s vote to confirm Lin was supported by all present Democratic members and three Republicans: U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).

Last year, during hearings for her nomination in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) objected to an article she wrote in 1998 while a junior at Harvard University calling members of the Christian Coalition “bigots.”

The Christian Coalition was founded by the late Christian media mogul Pat Robertson, who attracted controversy throughout his life and career for making sexist, homophobic and racist remarks.

Lin was appointed as a judge in the San Francisco Superior Court in 2018, and she currently presides over felony and misdemeanor criminal trials. She previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney in San Francisco.

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