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GOP congresswoman attacks transgender student-athlete in Senate campaign ad

Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler is a longtime opponent of LGBTQ rights.

By Josh Israel - February 14, 2022
Vicky Hartzler

Long before her 2010 election to Congress, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) earned a reputation as one of her state’s most outspoken opponents of LGBTQ equality. Now that she’s running for an open Senate seat, she’s using that bigotry as a selling point.

In a new ad released Sunday, Hartzler takes aim at Lia Thomas, a transgender college swimmer. After showing a photo of Thomas before she transitioned and invoking her deadname, Hartzler says, “Some people are afraid to talk about it. Not me. I’m Vicky Hartzler. I ran and coached girls track and I won’t look away while woke liberals destroy women’s sports. Women’s sports are for women — not men pretending to be women.”

Transgender people are not “pretending” to be anything. That fact has not stopped GOP politicians like Hartzler from pushing for harmful, discriminatory policies that would make life harder for LGBTQ student-athletes and would bar transgender people from participating in sports on the teams that correspond with their gender identity.

“There is no evidence that transgender kids pose any threat,” Adri Perez, policy and advocacy strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said in October as the GOP-run Texas Legislature advanced an anti-transgender student-athlete bill.

Hartzler is one of several Republican candidates seeking the open seat of retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) officially endorsed Hartzler on Saturday.

“For almost a year I’ve been asked who I intend to vote for in #MOSEN primary this August. Well, I’ve made up my mind,” Hawley tweeted on Saturday. He added, “Vicky has the integrity, the heart, and the toughness to represent” Missouri in the U.S. Senate.

In turn, Hartzler called Hawley, one of the eight Republican senators who voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, “a fearless, unapologetic conservative leader in the U.S. Senate.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, Hawley cheered on the crowd of right-wing protesters who gathered at the U.S. Capitol in support of former President Donald Trump and raised his fist in support shortly before a mob of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol.

Hawley is also a vocal critic of LGBTQ rights. In June 2020, he lambasted a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that federal employment laws against sex discrimination bar job discrimination against LGBTQ workers, saying the decision “represents the end of the conservative legal movement.”

In October, Hartzler boasted of an endorsement from David Barton, an evangelical author designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center an anti-LGBTQ extremist. Barton lauded her as a defender of “Judeo-Christian values” in the “battle for the heart and soul of our nation.”

In June, Hartzler said she was “proud to have earned the endorsement” of FRC Action, the political arm of the Family Research Council, as well as the group’s president, Tony Perkins. Perkins has praised Hartzler for her fierce opposition to the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing anti-discrimination statutes, and noted her 100% “True Blue” support for FRC Action’s anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion rights agenda. FRC’s political action committee has given Hartzler $10,000 in campaign donations — the legal maximum.

Hartzler has a long history of attacking LGBTQ people. As a House candidate in 2010, she accused her Democratic opponent of supporting “the extreme agenda items of the gay movement” by backing a defense bill that included hate crimes protections. She also said allowing gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the military would put the nation “at risk.”

In Congress, she has been one of the most consistently anti-equality lawmakers in the country. In 2011, Hartzler compared same-sex marriage to incest, pedophilia, and letting 3-year-olds drive. The Human Rights Campaign has repeatedly awarded Hartzler a zero score for her voting record “on issues impacting the LGBTQ community and society’s most marginalized.”

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. Seven years later, Hartzler’s official congressional website includes a section on “Marriage and Life” that implies that same-sex couples cannot raise children in “a loving, stable, and caring family.”

“I will continue [to] champion marriage as the union of one man and one woman so every child has the opportunity to be loved and known by a mom and a dad,” her official site reads.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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