Saturday, April 1, 2023

Commentary: We can only judge Youngkin on his history of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric

My mother offered me some excellent advice many years ago when she told me, “The only way you can predict a person’s future behavior is based on how they’ve behaved in the past.”

I thought of those words yesterday when I received an email invitation to attend Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Roundtable Discussion with LGBTQ+ Business/Community Leaders of Hampton Roads, which takes place tonight in Virginia Beach.

It is the second of his attempts to “celebrate Pride Month,” the first being in Richmond last night. Several LGBTQ community leaders in that city refused to attend, including Outwire757’s friend James Milner, President of Virginia Pride, who told The Advocate, “What’s the point, given his positions that he took during the campaign and his demonization of transgender people for political gains, and his support for educators who refuse to acknowledge and support transgender students when they tell them who they are?”

I agreed with him on that count, and I declined to attend. Here’s why:

  • Youngkin has been endorsed by several anti-LGBTQ politicians, most notably former President Donald Trump, who announced his support for the candidate ahead of the GOP primary. He has also been endorsed by Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Kevin Stitt, Rep. Bob Good, and Rep. Morgan Griffith. Youngkin was endorsed by the anti-LGBTQ group Family Research Council Action, an LGBTQ hate group tagged by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which notes its long history of spreading harmful lies and misinformation about LGBTQ people.
  • Youngkin appeared at a gala hosted by the so-called Family Foundation, which filed a lawsuit challenging Virginia state policy protecting transgender students, and which has supported discredited and dangerous “therapy” that falsely claims people can change their sexual orientation or gender identity. The anti-LGBTQ legal group Alliance Defending Freedom was a sponsor of the gala where Youngkin appeared.
  • Refused to say he supports marriage equality, in interview with the Associated Press, which has been legal nationwide for more than six years and is supported by 70% of Americans, a record-high.
  • Spoke out during the second gubernatorial debate to support two parents who criticized LGBTQ-inclusive books at Fairfax High School libraries as “homoerotic.” Youngkin called the books, written for 12-18 year olds, “sexually explicit.” The books in question have been questioned by are Lawn Boy and Gender Queer. Both books feature LGBTQ characters and were recently honored by the American Library Association for their appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18.
  • Supported a Loudoun County public school teacher who refused to recognize pronouns of transgender students, falsely claiming the teacher’s views are “in the best interest of the children.”
  • Said he does not support allowing transgender children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity, on a radio interview with Trump supporter John Fredericks.
  • Told a mother he is opposed to allowing transgender students to participate in sports in alignment with their true identity, claiming: “Biological males should not be allowed to play sports in girls’ sports. It’s just not fair.”
  • Helped fuel Donald Trump’s “big lie” about so-called “election fraud” by refusing to say that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election. Youngkin’s first major policy proposal was the launch of an “Election Integrity Task Force.” Youngkin is calling for a number of changes, including requiring voters to show ID in order to cast a vote. Voter ID laws have been shown to disproportionately impact people of color, as well as the transgender community.
  • Said during a Breitbart interview that he regretted that the civil rights organization the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was included in an initiative by the Carlyle Group—where he was co-CEO at the time—in which the company would match employee donations to select nonprofits following George Floyd’s death. Youngkin noted that he removed Black Lives Matter (BLM) from the list and said leaving the SPLC on was an oversight and a mistake he wouldn’t repeat today.
  • Expressed support for religious exemption laws that allow provide a license to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. He criticized a tweet by Gov. Terry McAuliffe—who vetoed anti-LGBTQ exemption laws in both 2016and 2017—which condemned such laws and called to “expand protections for LGBTQ+ Virginians, not dismantle them.”
  • Pledged to use “every ounce of authority I have” if elected to “protect Virginians’ First Amendment right to freely live out their faith.” Anti-LGBTQ activists have used religious beliefs to argue for the right to discriminate.

My mother, herself a staunch LGBTQ+ advocate, was absolutely right. Why should we trust Youngkin to look out for our best interests when he has a long track record of advocating for stripping away our rights and our dignity?

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