Republicans run vicious attack ads against lesbian candidate for Congress


The National Republican Campaign Committee attacked Gina Ortiz Jones for her support of transgender service members.

The National Republican Campaign Committee has paid for ads attacking Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, who is running for Texas' open 23rd Congressional District, for her support of transgender members of the military.

If elected, Jones would be the first out LGBTQ person to represent a Texas district in the House of Representatives and the first Filipina American in Congress.

One of the ads, called "DOD," was released on Tuesday. It claims Jones supported closing military bases because she "wants the defense department to pay for transgender reassignment surgeries." The ad continued, "Reassigning the military: A new mission, helping Jones use our money to radicalize our country."

During a debate with her opponent, Republican Tony Gonzales, Jones said: "I don't support closing military bases, my opponent knows this." She added, "I'm a proud Air Force veteran, Iraq War veteran, I trained at Lackland Air Force Base, my first assignment in the Air Force was Kelly Annex. ... I've spent 13 years of my career working on a military base. I know exactly how important our military bases are to our national security."

Another ad against Jones, released by the committee last week and titled "Death Sentence," said she would "divert military money to pay for transgender reassignment surgeries."

Jones tweeted in January of last year about the ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military: "Transgender men and women currently serving openly on active duty in combat zones shows us this ban is unnecessary. This ban weakens our military, because it is based on things other than individual merit, qualifications, or physical and mental fitness to serve. Who's next?"

In 2017 and 2018, Jones, who was running against incumbent Republican Rep. Will Hurd in the 23rd Congressional District, criticized Hurd for his vote for an amendment that prevented the use of military spending on transgender people's transition-related health care, according to the Washington Blade.

In addition to these ads, the National Republican Campaign Committee's "DemocratFacts" website advised groups that produce ads and mailers against Jones, an out lesbian, that they should clearly note her sexual orientation by including images of Jones and her partner and letting voters know that before running for Congress in Texas, "Jones and her female partner lived and worked near Washington, DC, not Texas." After HuffPost drew attention to the advice on the website, the committee removed the information about her partner; it left a photo of the two women on the page.

According to the LGBTQ Victory Institute, an organization that supports LGBTQ leaders in government, business, and advocacy, a record 850 LGBTQ people are running for office this year, and many of the candidates have a real shot at winning their races. In 2016, there were 417 LGBTQ elected officials at all levels of government. There are currently 843 LGBTQ elected officials in the United States.

There have been other recent conservative attacks on LGBTQ candidates or use of anti-LGBTQ messages to scare voters into rejecting Democratic candidates. The group Take Back Colorado recently released a Facebook ad that refers to Democratic Colorado state Rep. Brianna Titone, a transgender woman, by her deadname, and includes other transphobic messages. NBC reported that the group is registered to Joe Neville, the brother of Colorado Republican House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, who denied that the ad was transphobic.

The National Republican Campaign Committee has also attacked Democratic Michigan state Rep. Jon Hoadley, a gay man who is running against Republican incumbent Rep. Fred Upton in Michigan's 6th Congressional District, calling him a "pedo sex poet."

Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund PAC, said: "Fred Upton is resorting to digging up Jon’s puerile college blog posts and pulling together out-of-context words and phrases because he can find nothing else to criticize about Jon's public service record."

The conservative American Principles Project in September released ads in Michigan that attack transgender people in hopes of turning "persuadable" voters away from Democratic candidates. One showed a boy beating girls on a running track while a narrator said: "All female athletes want is a fair shot at competition. At a scholarship. At a title. At victory. But what if that shot was taken away by a competitor who claims to be a girl but was born a boy?" The ad then flashed images of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and incumbent Democratic Sen. Gary Peters.

But these kinds of attacks aren't always successful. In Virginia, after an anti-trans Facebook ad released by a group called Family Foundation Action targeted state Del. Danica Roem, a transgender woman, last year, she still won reelection.

Polls continue to show a majority of Americans support nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.