Meet an anti-LGBTQ Senate candidate: Adam Laxalt

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The Nevada Republican nominee, who once criticized 'the homosexual lifestyle,' is old friends with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of the most fervently anti-LGBTQ governors in the country.

Nevada Republicans selected former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt as their Senate nominee in Tuesday's primary. While Laxalt's campaign issues page makes no mention of his positions on LGBTQ issues, he has a lengthy record of opposing equal rights for LGBTQ people.

Laxalt, who ran unsuccessfully for Nevada governor in 2018 and co-chaired Donald Trump's failed 2020 re-election campaign in the state, received only about 56% of the primary vote even with Trump's endorsement.

He will face incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in November. The freshman senator, a Democrat, has a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign — indicating support for equal rights at every opportunity.

"Since entering the Senate in 2017, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto has stood tall fighting for LGBTQ+ equality and continues to be a fierce advocate for the marginalized. Nevadans are fortunate to have Senator Cortez Masto fighting on their behalf," HRC Interim President Joni Madison said in a March endorsement statement. "Senator Cortez Masto has championed the essential federal non-discrimination protections in the Equality Act and worked to make Nevada and the nation, a better and safer place for all, proving herself as a leader and an ally to the LGBTQ+ community."

A March Public Religion Research Institute national poll found Nevada has the fifth-highest level of public support for LGBTQ rights of any state in the country, with 85% of adults favoring legal protections in employment, public accommodations, and housing.

A Laxalt campaign spokesperson did not respond to an inquiry for this story. But the candidate's record shows consistent opposition to LGBTQ legal protections.

'Don't Say Gay'

Laxalt and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of the nation's most fervently anti-LGBTQ governors, were roommates during their time at Naval Justice School. DeSantis endorsed Laxalt's campaign during the primary and traveled to Nevada to campaign for him in April.

One month earlier in March, DeSantis signed into law Florida's infamous "Don't Say Gay" legislation, which prohibits elementary schools from even acknowledging the existence of LGBTQ families until grade four.

Laxalt has vocally backed the "Don't Say Gay" law. In a March 31 appearance on the right-wing "Breitbart News Daily Podcast," Laxalt blasted the Walt Disney Company for speaking out against the legislation and lauded DeSantis for ignoring his "woke" constituents' concerns:

I think what you've seen out of the last few days, out of Disney and the rest of the woke-left army, is proof positive of why DeSantis put forward this bill and why they needed this bill. I mean, why in the world are they fighting so hard for the ability to indoctrinate kids from age kindergarten to third grade? Why are they fighting — I should say — against this bill if it were not because they want to be able to indoctrinate kids at these ages? ... There can't be virtually any parents that would actually support the indoctrination, by strangers, of their children in schools. And so even if there's 20% of Americans, you can almost guarantee none of those are parents, or still parents. They're just, you know, your classic coastal radical leftists. And so, you know, kudos to DeSantis for signing this bill and then for going on offense.

A day later he tweeted, "Real democracy and real leadership is standing up against giant corporations on behalf of parents and children being bullied by the rich and the powerful. Few do it better than @RonDeSantisFL."

Banning openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the military

Twelve years ago, Laxalt penned multiple op-eds opposing then-President Barack Obama's efforts to lift the ban on gay and lesbian people serving openly in the United States armed forces.

In a 2010 American Spectator column, he complained that lifting the ban would mean that "senior officers and non-commissioned officers will have to, under the color of Military Law, proactively endorse and eventually foster homosexuality."

"It is one thing for the military to ask its members to accept homosexuals, but another for the military to ask its members to accept and live with homosexuality, the homosexual lifestyle," Laxalt opined.

That same year, he wrote in the National Review: "Homosexuals are, de facto, allowed to be in the military right now ... Under 'don't ask, don’t tell,' however, they do not force the military to deal with an added layer of relationships. Allowing homosexuals to 'live out' their sexuality and their relationships in the military would cause many problems."

Opposing marriage equality

In his 2014 campaign for attorney general, Laxalt repeatedly stated that he believed marriage should only be "one man, one woman."

He endorsed and promised to vigorously defend Nevada's prohibition on same-sex marriage. A federal court declared that ban unconstitutional in 2014.

Fighting for the right to discriminate

Between 2015 and 2019, Laxalt served a single term as Nevada attorney general. In that position, he worked to ensure people who opposed LGBTQ equality could discriminate without repercussion.

He defended a controversial 2016 Mississippi law intended to allow special "conscience" protections to those who oppose same-sex marriage.

He signed onto a pair of 2017 multi-state legal briefs arguing that the Constitution protects the right of bakers and florists with anti-LGBTQ religious beliefs to deny their services to same-sex couples.

Laxalt also joined a 2018 letter backing special "conscience protections" for health care workers who do not want to provide appropriate medical treatment to transgender patients.

Boasting of backing by bigots

Laxalt's campaign issues page makes no mention of any of his positions on LGBTQ issues, but his endorsements page indicates that he welcomes the support of openly anti-LGBTQ Republicans such as DeSantis.

"You and I know we are in a fight to save our country," DeSantis said in a video endorsing Laxalt. "There's nobody I trust more to join me in this fight than Adam Laxalt. I've known Adam since we were in the U.S. Navy together. He will stand for our values. He will never run away from a fight."

Laxalt also lists an endorsement from right-wing radio host Mark Levin. Levin frequently bashes LGBTQ people, likening inclusive education to sexualizing "little babies;" equating same-sex couples with polygamists, drug users, and those engaged in incest; and opposing a Supreme Court ruling deeming discrimination against LGBTQ people a form of sex discrimination.

He also boasts of support from Ralph Reed, a longtime leader in the religious right movement. Reed has opposed allowing gay kids to be Boy Scouts, called for the government to discriminate against religious groups that include LGBTQ people, opposed "special rights or privileges" for gay and lesbian people, and called employment non-discrimination legislation a "dagger aimed at the heart of religious freedom for millions of Americans."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.