Photo credit: City Club of Cleveland
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Candidate for U.S. Senate; Commentator
- Updated: July 19, 2023
—Introduced the so-called “Protect Children’s Innocence Act,” a piece of legislation riddled with lies about transgender healthcare. The act includes an array of far-right, anti-transgender buzzwords and “bans” a variety of medical procedures, none of which are a part of transgender healthcare for minors. The act, if passed, carries a Class C felony penalty (punishable by 3.5 to 15 years in prison) for these imagined procedures. “Under no circumstances should doctors be allowed to perform these gruesome, irreversible operations on underage children,” said Senator Vance, who is not a medical professional. The act also seeks to ban all taxpayer funding for such actions (citing the Affordable Care Act), and would “prohibit institutions of higher education from providing instruction on ‘gender-affirming care,’ and would deem aliens who have performed ‘gender-affirming care’ on a minor ineligible to receive visas or admittance to the United States.”
—Stated he would vote “no” on the Respect for Marriage Act to codify marriage equality. On September 15th, current U.S. senators announced they were postponing a vote on the bill until after the election in November. The bill is supported by Sen. Rob Portman, who is retiring from the Senate. Portman was the first Republican senator to share support for marriage equality after his son came out as gay in 2013.
—Tweeted false and vile rhetoric about people opposed to legislation that censors classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity: “I’ll stop calling people “groomers” when they stop freaking out about bills that prevent the sexualization of my children.” There is no evidence that discussing LGBTQ people, history or families in schools ‘sexualizes’ anyone. Experts in child sexual abuse say false rhetoric about grooming diminishes understanding about actual abuse and endangers all children. He made the same claim in an interview with Tucker Carlson.
—Repeated false rhetoric to inaccurately claim that bills censoring classroom conversation about LGBTQ people are about ‘parents’ rights.’ An estimated two million children have LGBTQ parents; LGBTQ parents and parents who support LGBTQ people have spoken out to say they do not want their children censored in classrooms.
—Endorsed by former president Donald Trump in Ohio’s Republican Senate primary. The Trump administration led more than 200 attacks in policy and rhetoric against LGBTQ Americans, including baselessly banning transgender people from military service. Vance had previously called Trump an “idiot,” “reprehensible,” and “noxious” and privately described Trump: “I go back and forth between thinking Trump is a cynical asshole like Nixon who wouldn’t be that bad (and may even prove useful) or that he’s America’s Hitler.” Vance’s college classmate revealed the messages on Twitter, in which Vance also called the GOP “the party of lower-income, lower-education white people.”
—Campaigned with and endorsed by Donald Trump Junior and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who have both verbally attacked and smeared LGBTQ Americans. Vance defended Greene’s appearance at a white supremacist conference with host Nick Fuentes, who has spread racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theories, claiming “she did nothing wrong.”
—On his campaign website, claims without evidence that American political leaders are “using America’s military as a social justice side project. Our troops don’t need to focus on diversity or equity or any other progressive buzzword.”
—Baselessly tweeted “What’s happening in Ukraine has nothing to do with our national security.” Stated on Steve Bannon’s podcast as Russia, days before Russia invaded: “I’ve got to be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another.” Backtracked five days later, stating Russia’s assault on Ukraine is “unquestionably a tragedy” while praising former President Trump, falsely claiming he helped contain Russia’s aggression, and who called Russian President Putin “a genius” in the early days of the invasion of Ukraine. The State Department warned of the potential of LGBTQ people being targeted in Ukraine before the invasion: “targeted killings, kidnappings/forced disappearances, unjust detentions, and the use of torture, would likely target those who oppose Russian actions, including Russian and Belarusian dissidents in exile in Ukraine, journalists and anti-corruption activists, and vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons. Specifically, we have credible information that indicates Russian forces are creating lists of identified Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation.” Putin signed legislation in 2013 to ban the “promotion of nontraditional sexual relations to minors,” which, writes Human Rights Watch, coincided with an uptick in often-gruesome vigilante violence against LGBT people in Russia. Amnesty International found Russian authorities complicit in the abduction, torture and murders of gay men in the former Soviet republic of Chechnya during the Trump presidency.
—Claimed a week before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that President Biden is risking war with Russia because Pres. Putin doesn’t believe in transgender rights. “We did not serve in the Marine Corps to go and fight Vladimir Putin because he didn’t believe in transgender rights, which is what the U.S. State Department is saying is a major problem with Russia.” Politifact, an independent factchecking site, rated Vance’s claim untrue—“pants on fire”: “The State Department noted the threats against transgender people as one issue among many in a report on human rights. It gave much more space to the danger posed by Russia’s military policies in its most recent annual threat assessment. The risk of war in Ukraine is not affected by Putin’s attitude toward transgender rights.”
—Tried and failed to make fun of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for “inventing” new terms to describe LGBTQ people’s identities. “I’m sorry but what the hell is two-spirit?” Vance asked in a tweet. “Would love if progressives just stopped inventing words.” Native American, First Nation, and Canadian Aboriginal people have held LGBTQ and gender non-conforming members of their communities in high respect throughout history, referring to them as “two spirit“ people.
—Said the “childless left” is responsible for America’s woes, and singled out Vice President Kamala Harris, the first out Senate-confirmed Cabinet Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, Senator Cory Booker (NJ), and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY). In the same address, which was to a conservative think tank, Vance praised the far-right, anti-LGBTQ president of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, for encouraging married couples to have children. Buttigieg and his husband announced the birth of their twin children in September 2021.
—Attacked conservative Supreme Court justices after the court ruled that LGBTQ employees should be protected from job discrimination in Bostock v. Clayton County. “The conservative legal movement has accomplished two things: libertarian political economy (enforced by judges) and betrayal of social conservatives and traditionalists,” Vance tweeted (tweet since removed).
The GLAAD Accountability Project catalogs anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and discriminatory actions of politicians, commentators, organization heads, religious leaders, and legal figures, who have used their platforms, influence and power to spread misinformation and harm LGBTQ people.
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For GLAAD Media Institute Alum Kevin Anderson, interviews with journalists have become increasingly prevalent in…