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Meet an anti-LGBTQ Senate candidate: JD Vance

Ohio Republican Senate nominee JD Vance throws around the slur ‘groomer’ to refer to those who oppose banning the mention of LGBTQ people in schools.

By Josh Israel - June 07, 2022
JD Vance

Last month, Ohio Republicans nominated J.D. Vance to run for the seat to be vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman, apparently approving of his record of flip-flops on numerous issues and his anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

Vance is a millionaire venture capitalist and author of the book “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.” After years of criticizing former President Donald Trump as “xenophobic,” “an idiot,” and “reprehensible,” he has run his campaign as a staunch Trump supporter. Trump, in turn, endorsed his erstwhile critic, claiming that, “unlike so many other pretenders and wannabes, he will put America First.”

Vance will face Democratic nominee Rep. Tim Ryan, a 10-term representative who was given a 100% rating by the Human Rights Campaign for his support of LGBTQ equality. On his campaign website’s “Standing with LGBTQ+ Ohioans” issue page, Ryan affirms, “All Ohioans should be able to live their lives safely, with dignity, and free from discrimination or fear” and notes his support for the Equality Act, “which would strengthen legal protections for LGBTQ+ Ohioans and ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment, health care, and more.”

The Vance campaign did not respond to an inquiry about the candidate’s positions.

He has no section on LGBTQ equality on his own website and no record in public office, but his public statements indicate that he does not agree that LGBTQ people deserve equal treatment under the law.

Does not believe LGBTQ people should be covered by civil rights laws

Earlier this year, Vance responded to questions posed by the American Family Association, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-LGBTQ hate group, for its “iVoterGuide.” Vance responded “Strongly disagree” to the sentences “Sexual orientation and gender identity should be protected classes in non-discrimination laws” and “Individuals and businesses should be required to provide services even if it would violate their moral and/or religious beliefs.”

At an October 2021 forum held by the anti-LGBTQ Center for Christian Virtue, Vance expressed strong opposition to the Equality Act. He called the proposal to add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to existing federal nondiscrimination laws “a fundamental assault on the idea that men and women are different.”

After the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2020 that federal sex discrimination laws protect LGBTQ Americans from employment bias, Vance blasted the decision on Twitter: “The conservative legal movement has accomplished two things: libertarian political economy (enforced by judges) and betrayal of social conservatives and traditionalists.” He has since deleted the tweet.

Uses homophobic slur ‘groomer’ for people who want to teach schoolchildren about the existence of LGBTQ families

Vance has endorsed laws that bar staff and teachers in elementary schools from mentioning LGBTQ people and has pushed a homophobic false narrative that anyone who disagrees with him must be a child abuser. He has also claimed that transgender kids who access affirming health care are merely being manipulated by drug companies hoping to sell hormone therapy products.

In an April 13 appearance on the Ohio Christian Alliance’s podcast, he demanded legislation to protect “the rights of parents.” “The idea that you would want to force 6- and 7-year-old children to be exposed to sexualization, to gender identity, it’s just so beyond the pale,” he said, praising Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill as an “anti-grooming law.”

On April 9, he told Fox News host Tucker Carlson: “If you don’t want to be called a ‘groomer,’ don’t try to sexualize 6- and 7-year-old children. It’s really that simple. At the end of the day, like you said, this is about parental rights. What kind of a country do we want to live in: where families control what values their children grow up in or where Joe Biden and pharmaceutical companies get to do that?”

According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, grooming is “manipulative behaviors that the abuser uses to gain access to a potential victim, coerce them to agree to the abuse, and reduce the risk of being caught.” NPR’s Melissa Block noted in May that “that meaning has been warped and corrupted to broadly smear the motives of LGBTQ people and those who oppose anti-LGBTQ legislation.”

“I’ll stop calling people ‘groomers’,” Vance tweeted on April 6, “when they stop freaking out about bills that prevent the sexualization of my children.”

Belittling LGBTQ Native Americans

For centuries, some Native American tribes have recognized what are called “two-spirit” people. According to the Indian Health Service, “Traditionally, Native American two-spirit people were male, female, and sometimes intersexed individuals who combined activities of both men and women with traits unique to their status as two-spirit people. In most tribes, they were considered neither men nor women; they occupied a distinct, alternative gender status.”

In September2021, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) affirmed, “Trans, two-spirit, and non-binary people have always existed and will always exist. People can stay mad about that if they want, or they can grow up.”

Vance responded, “I’m sorry but what the hell is two-spirit? Would love if progressives just stopped inventing words.”

Blamed transgender rights for Ukraine conflict

Vance told right-wing podcast host Steve Bannon on Feb. 19, prior to Russia’s invasion of its neighbor:

We did not not serve in the Marine Corps to go and fight Vladimir Putin because he didn’t believe in transgender rights, right, which is what the U.S. State Department is saying is a major problem with Russia. … I think it’s ridiculous that we’re focused on this border in Ukraine. I gotta be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another. … I’m sick of Joe Biden focusing on the border of a country I don’t care about while he lets the border of his own country become a total war zone.

PolitiFact rated Vance’s claim that transgender rights were behind U.S. concern over Russia and Ukraine a “Pants on Fire” lie.

Calls LGBTQ inclusion ‘radical gender ideology’

Vance has demonized efforts to acknowledge the existence of transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people as harmful and “ridiculous.”

His campaign issues page accuses “The Left” of a “culture war against traditional values” and urges the banning of public funding for LGBTQ-inclusive institutions.

“It’s time for us to fight back. Not a single additional dollar for universities—in Ohio or out—that teach critical race theory or radical gender ideology,” he demands. “And we must give parents resources to control their kids’ education—whether they choose a traditional public school, a charter school, a religious school, or a home school.”

In April, he told the right-wing Epoch Times, “I think a lot of countries look at the United States as the leader of the free world; they’re not going to look at us like that if we keep on pushing ridiculous notions of gender with the children, not just here, but everywhere else too.”

Last September, during an appearance on the right-wing “Jack Murphy Live” podcast, Vance called for a widespread “de-woke-ification” educational campaign to end LGBTQ-inclusive education and cited Hungary’s far-right authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban as a model.

“What do you do at the Department of Education? Well, you do what Viktor Orban has done in Hungary, which is basically say, You’re not allowed to teach critical race theory anymore, you’re not allowed to teach critical gender theory anymore, you’re not allowed to teach your doctors that they should experiment on 10-year-old children with hormonal therapy, you’re not allowed to do those things and get a dollar of federal money or a dollar of state money.”

Endorsed by anti-LGBTQ extremists

Vance’s endorsement list highlights the support of several anti-LGBTQ extremists.

He boasts of the support of anti-feminist Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance, who said Vance would “protect the innocent lives of unborn children, advocate for pro-family policies and work to preserve religious freedom.”

Nance has pushed for bans on military service by gay and transgender people; compared same-sex marriages to “counterfeit money”; said allowing openly gay Boy Scout leaders would “put our young sons at risk”; and called homosexuality “unnatural.”

He also notes the support of Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who has made anti-LGBTQ, antisemitic, and racist statements and called for an end to Pride Month. She claims that straight people will face extinction: “Probably, in about four or five generations, no one will be straight anymore. Everyone will be either gay or trans or non-conforming or whatever the list of 50 or 60 different options are.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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