Over the past few weeks, several Republican presidential candidates have served up attacks on LGBT people, recommitting themselves to persecution by rolling back gains for equality and enshrining the right to discriminate into law. The comments all seem to be popping up as the candidates have stayed relatively mum on issues like abortion, gun control violence, and Islamophobia, despite recent tragedies spotlighting those issues in the media.
Here are some of the recent anti-LGBT highlights from the Republican primary.
In an interview this weekend with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Marco Rubio outlined outlined extensive plans for enabling discrimination against LGBT people in the name of religious liberty. As president, Rubio said he would do the following:
- Rescind President Obama’s executive order protecting the LGBT employees of federal contractors.
- Only appoint Supreme Court Justices committed to undoing marriage equality and a woman’s right to an abortion.
- Protect religious organizations that wish to refuse service to same-sex couples.
Rubio seemed to imply that employing and serving LGBT people were themselves sinful actions. “There are many government contractors and small companies who provide services to the government who are faith-based people, and they are being compelled to sin by government in their business conduct,” he said. “That is not something we should be supporting.”
Ted Cruz recently sat down with National Organization for Marriage founder Robert George for an interview on EWTN, a Catholic television network. In one segment, Cruz agreed with George that the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision was “profoundly wrong,” “fundamentally illegitimate,” “lawless,” and “not based on the Constitution.”
Cruz then referenced Justice Anthony Kennedy’s recent comments that a public official that can not follow the decision, like Kim Davis, should resign. During his remarks, Kennedy alluded to the fact that very few judges resigned from the Nazi German government. Thus, Cruz claimed, he was comparing the Supreme Court to Nazis. “This isn’t me calling them the Nazis,” Cruz explained, “this is Justice Kennedy calling the court on which he serves, calling the opinion that he wrote — analogizing that to the Nazi decrees that we must obey. That is an arrogance, it is an elitism, it is being out of touch with our nation.”
In another segment, Cruz fielded a question about accommodations for transgender students in public schools. He condemned such policies as “ridiculous” decisions made by “zealots.” “I don’t want my daughters taking showers with little boys; I don’t want them when they’re in junior high or high school. And it’s absurd. No parents do.”
Cruz pledged to end Common Core and abolish the Department of Education entirely, so there would be no federal agency to enforce Title IX to protect transgender students.
Mike Huckabee also talked to Robert George for an hour late last month and offered his own renditions on many of the same points. Huckabee would “absolutely decline” to enforce the marriage equality decision, because “it’s a matter of saving our republic.” He’d also ensure that he had an attorney general who “would protect in every way the rights of those citizens who joined in disagreeing.”
As such, Huckabee would pass the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) in his first 100 days. The bill would prohibit the federal government from acting against any organization that discriminates against same-sex couples, creating a widespread license to discriminate. Citing examples of wedding vendors who would refuse to serve same-sex couples or schools that would refuse to recognize their marriages, he pledged the federal government under his leadership would side with them if a state is trying to enforce a nondiscrimination law.
Huckabee also chimed in on transgender school protections, calling it a “ludicrous notion” that someone “can just wake up one day and say, ‘You know, I know I have the biological makeup of a male and I have the gene — I’m genetically male, but I kind of feel feminine today,’ or ‘I’m going to feel feminine for the next year or the rest of my life.’”
He described it as “most baffling” than anyone could thoughtfully “defend the notion that it is normal — that it is perfectly legitimate — for a person just to declare oneself to be a different gender. It borders on laughable, and I know to say it’s laughable would bring great contempt because people would say you’re being insensitive. I’m not being insensitive. I’m exercising just a little bit of common sense.”
Huckabee similarly exercised his little bit of common sense earlier this year when he joked that he wished transgender protections existed when he was a kid, because he would’ve found his “feminine side” so he could “shower with the girls.”
Over the weekend, Ben Carson said at a town hall event that he misses “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the policy that discriminated against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in the military. “Why do you have to go around flaunting your sexuality?” he asked. “It’s not necessary. You don’t need to talk about that. We need to talk about how we eliminate the enemy.”
He also opposed allowing transgender people to serve, worrying that the military is being used as “a laboratory for social experimentation.” “Deal with the transgender thing somewhere else,” he said. Last month, Carson similarly said that trans people don’t deserve “extra rights,” like equal access to safely use the bathroom. The ban on transgender military service will be lifted this spring.
At a recent debate, Carson took umbrage at the notion that he might be described as a “homophobe” for his frequent anti-LGBT comments. When he apologized earlier this year for suggesting that homosexuality is a choice because prison turns people gay, he announced that he wasn’t going to talk about “gay rights” issues anymore.
That hasn’t proven to be the case for him or any of his fellow candidates.