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Gay and trans Republicans shocked DeSantis now targeting them

Fla. governor’s War Room released new ad



(Los Angeles Blade/EIM graphic)

By Erin Reed | Gay and transgender Republicans expressed dismay after the DeSantis campaign’s rapid-response Twitter account, DeSantis War Room, recently released an attack ad that unabashedly promotes what it calls the “most extreme slate of anti-LGBTQ+ laws in history” and claims its policies “threaten trans existence.” 

The ad also goes after former President Donald Trump, critiquing him for his purported support of Pride and the LGBTQ community — in spite of his anti-LGBTQ record. LGBTQ advocates have continually warned about the escalation of anti-trans attacks into broader anti-hostility, and LGBTQ Republican operatives are suddenly finding out the consequences of supporting such policies.

The ad itself has been described as one of the worst anti-LGBTQ attack ads ever, with one reporter calling it “the closest thing to what a Benito Mussolini TikTok ad would’ve looked like.”

The backlash to the ad was swift. A number of gay and trans Republicans, who have in the past supported anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ policies, now found themselves criticizing the campaign for turning on them. Notably, Scott Presler, co-founder of “Gays For Trump,” publicly questioned the DeSantis campaign’s stance and asked what the campaign felt about a gay person like him. 

It’s worth mentioning that Presler had previously endorsed DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ policies, including the contentious “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law, and has boasted about his voter registration efforts playing a role in DeSantis’ electoral success.

Richard Grenell, a prominent gay Republican political operative and former member of Trump’s cabinet, also expressed consternation, labeling the ad as “undeniably homophobic.” 

It’s noteworthy that Grenell has a history of criticizing “wokeness” and “trans radicalism,” and has been an advocate for various anti-LGBTQ measures, including bans on gender-affirming care and the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law.

Caitlyn Jenner, a trans Republican political commentator, stated that the candidate had “hit a new low.” It’s important to highlight that Jenner herself has been a consistent proponent of DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ policies, including some featured in the ad. She has often contended that supporting LGBTQ individuals in schools equates to “grooming,” backed drag bans, and previously expressed being a “big supporter of Ron DeSantis” specifically for his “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law.

Even the Log Cabin Republicans, the principal LGBTQ Republican organization, chimed in, denouncing the ad as “divisive and desperate” and labeling DeSantis’ policies as “naive” and “politically stupid.” Intriguingly, the organization had previously lauded Governor DeSantis for some of the very anti-LGBTQ policies featured in the ad. 

For instance, Log Cabin Republicans have participated in anti-drag protests and support bathroom bans. The official account has in the past accused “LGBTQ leftists” of attempting to “censor Ron DeSantis’ speech,” and commended him for the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law.

The conflict reached a fever pitch on Monday as heated exchanges erupted on Twitter between the aforementioned individuals and accounts associated with DeSantis campaign. Jenner, for instance, criticized the anti-LGBTQ organization “Gays Against Groomers,” and disclosed that the organization’s leader is on the payroll of DeSantis campaign.

Meanwhile, Christina Pushaw, the rapid response director for DeSantis’ campaign, addressed criticism by gay and trans Republicans by calling for an end to the federal recognition of Pride month. Republicans who oppose LGBTQ rights and those who support some level of rights continued to argue throughout the day over what level of acceptance LGBTQ people should receive.

Ultimately, the distinction between Trump and DeSantis is one without much difference when it comes to LGBTQ people. While DeSantis’ ad stood out for its brazen display of anti-LGBTQ positions, Donald Trump has not fared any better. 

The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ rights organization, has labeled Trump “the worst president on LGBTQ+ issues ever.” Trump’s tenure was marked by policies such as the ban on trans individuals serving in the military, the nomination of Supreme Court justices who have since voted in favor of allowing businesses to deny service to LGBTQ individuals, and the denial of asylum to LGBTQ seekers. Moreover, Trump recently released a campaign ad advocating for sweeping curtailments of transgender rights “for any age” and prohibitions on gender-affirming care for trans youth.

Although LGBTQ Republicans may believe themselves to be reforming the party, the party itself continues to target them with harmful policies. It seems unlikely that those policies will change in the near future given the heated rhetoric coming out of Republican legislatures across the country targeting LGBTQ people. Increasingly, these individuals find themselves pushed further to the periphery as the American right-wing steams onward in policies designed around eradication.


Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here:


The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.



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

Vote was 216-212



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

Three Republicans voted for Rita Lin’s nomination



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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Wexton, ardent LGBTQ ally, will not seek re-election

Congresswoman diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy



U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) and Virginia Del. Danica Roem (D-13) (Photo courtesy of Danica Roem)

U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) announced on Monday she will not seek reelection after receiving a diagnosis of progressive supranuclear palsy, a neurological disorder that the congresswoman described in a statement as “Parkinson’s on steroids.”

“I’m heartbroken to have to give up something I have loved after so many years of serving my community,” she said. “But taking into consideration the prognosis for my health over the coming years, I have made the decision not to seek reelection once my term is complete and instead spend my valued time with Andrew, our boys, and my friends and loved ones.”

A vice-chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus who was formerly a co-chair of its Transgender Equality Task Force, Wexton has been a staunch ally of the LGBTQ community since her first election to Congress in 2018 and during previous five-year tenure in the Virginia State Senate.

“.@RepWexton is a strong ally to LGBTQI+ people,” the Caucus posted on X. “We extend our support to her & her family during this time and thank her for championing LGBTQI+ equality.”

“On my lowest days, she’s quite literally been a shoulder to cry on, and on my best days, she was the second person I told about my engagement last year,” Virginia Del. Danica Roem (D-13) told the Washington Blade on Monday.

The congresswoman is “a role model, mentor and genuine public servant whose friendship and advocacy means the world to me,” said Roem, who is the first openly trans representative to serve in any state legislature and will be the first in Virginia’s State Senate if she is elected to the newly drawn 30th district seat next year.

“I spent so many years closeted in part because of the fear and loathing perpetuated by elected officials toward LGBTQ people in Northern Virginia broadly and greater Prince William [County] specifically that made for a hostile, unwelcoming environment,” she said.

“To go from that to having such outspoken, fearless representation from my member of Congress in Rep. Jennifer Wexton hasn’t so much been a breath of fresh air as much as a completely new biosphere,” Roem said.

She added, “I’m so grateful to her for everything she’s done and the example of inclusivity she’s set for her constituents.”

Roem pointed the Blade to an article in the Washington Post entitled, “How Jennifer Wexton became the ‘patron saint of the transgender community,’” which details the ways in which LGBTQ rights “with an emphasis on the transgender community” had become Wexton’s “signature issue” just “six months into her first term.”

In fact, on the day she took office, the congresswoman became only the second member to fly a transgender Pride flag outside her office.

Equality Virginia, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, also noted Wexton’s advocacy for the community in a post Monday on X: “Thank you @RepWexton for being a tireless advocate for LGBTQ+ people in the General Assembly and in Congress.”

“You’ve made our commonwealth a better place,” the group wrote, adding, “we’re sending our love and strength to you, your family and your entire team.”

“In 2018, this state senator I called my legislative role model and looked up to so much as a first-year delegate, came over for dinner crepes to share her wisdom, humor and guidance,” Roem said on X. “Five years later, Rep. @JenniferWexton is still a mentor, friend and champion for NOVA.”

The Washington Post reported Wexton’s planned departure means her seat representing Virginia’s 10th Congressional District could be vulnerable in next year’s elections, as it was held by Republicans for 40 years prior to the congresswoman’s defeat of GOP incumbent Barbara Comstock in 2018.

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