The fifth-ranking House Republican took a shot at the LGBT community at a recent town hall, saying he wanted to use “the power of humiliation” to undermine a program that helps individuals who need substance abuse treatment.
Rep. James Lankford (R-OK), who at the same Oklahoma City meeting earlier this month blamed gun violence on “welfare moms”, took a question from a constituent irate about a program that counseled LGBT individuals with substance abuse problems. The woman accused the Substances and Mental Health Services Administration of “pushing the homosexual agenda” and “indoctrinating our citizens.”
Lankford agreed with the woman’s concern, vowing to open an investigation into the matter. “They love functioning in the dark,” the Oklahoma Republican said of the LGBT program, promising to use “the power of humiliation” to uproot it.
CONSTITUENT: I want to know if you’re aware of the Substances and Mental Health Services Administration that has a book called the Provider’s Introduction to Substance Abuse Treatment for Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender Individuals.
CONSTITUENT: They are going around the nation, they just did this here in Oklahoma, December 7th, and having conferences that are educational. [...] About 2 percent of the conference is dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues. 98 percent is doing indoctrination or pushing the homosexual agenda. This is what our president is doing. He has a federal agency doing it. Our state, the Oklahoma Mental Health and Substance Abuse Department, put this conference on and is indoctrinating our citizens who are totally against this. Is there any way you can look into this?
LANKFORD: Oh yes, sure. You know I can absolutely get a chance to take a look at it. We’ll start the process, try to see what we can do to identify it. Some of those things you have the power of humiliation where you can raise it and put in sunlight. They love functioning in the dark. You put some sunlight on it, that does help. But, we’ll see. I’m glad to take that on.
The Susbstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s efforts have been critical in supporting LGBT people with problems ranging from substance abuse to bullying. Drug abuse factors can be far different for LGBT youth than straight youth, stemming in many cases from family rejection. Cutting the program, as Lankford seems to favor, would be devastating for already-underserved LGBT individuals.
Lankford has already earned an anti-LGBT reputation stemming from his past statements on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. ThinkProgress asked the congressman last year whether LGBT workers should be legally protected from workplace discrimination. Lankford shot down the proposal, calling homosexuality “a choice issue.”
The woman questioning Lankford, referred to as “Sally”, appears to be Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern (R), who in the past has argued that “gays are an even bigger threat than terrorism.” ThinkProgress called Kern’s office to confirm and will update once we hear back.