'People have left the lifestyle': Pro-spanking Republican says conversion therapy ban enables 'pedophilia'

Last year, the Minnesota House Preventative Health Policy Division approved a bill that bans conversion therapy in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes. The practice has long been decried as torture and is prohibited in nearly half the country.

"Mental health professionals would be prohibited from providing conversion therapy to vulnerable adults and clients under age 18," Minnesota Public Radio reported on March 2nd, 2022.

The full measure passed the Minnesota House of Representatives in February 2023. Democratic Governor Tim Walz noted that he intends to sign it if it clears the Republican-dominated State Senate.

READ MORE: Georgia county spends $1.2 million to avoid spending money on sheriff deputy’s gender-affirming care

But religious conservatives, like Minnesota State Senator Glenn Gruenhagen (R-17th District), who has a history of attacking LGBTQ+-identifying individuals, maintain otherwise.

In 2016, Gruenhagen sent a letter to local newspapers in which he called for "outlawing transgender-inclusive workplaces" and "claimed that thousands of people have left the 'homosexual lifestyle' and that 'transgenders' should get counseling, not sympathy," according to a contemporaneous article in The Column.

"At the end of his letter," the outlet noted, Gruenhagen "demonstrates a profound misunderstanding about both sexual orientation and gender identity while at the same time labeling transgender people as 'confused' and needing 'professional counseling.'"

Since then, Gruenhagen has remained steadfastly opposed to restrictions on conversion therapy and even proposed renaming it to fit his illegitimate narrative.

READ MORE: 'Michael Knowles is a hypocrite': Right-wing pundit portrayed gay characters in multiple films

"We're not trying to attack people per se, as much as to address behaviors and the opportunity to get the type of counseling you want," he said in 2022.

Greunhagen is still at it. In a recent conversation with a member of the clergy, Gruenhagen insisted that banning conversion therapy enables the "grooming" of young people into sexual predators.

"On conversion, we need to insert the government into it and prevent the doctor-patient relationship from whatever that is. If the person is struggling with, with some of those, uh, uh, behaviors and desires, we want to insert government and say to the counselor or, or to the, uh, therapist, you cannot try to, to tell him that what he's doing isn't right. You must reinforce his behavior," said Gruenhagen, who in 2014 opposed an anti-bullying law in favor of "spanking" instead because he felt that the legislation reeked of fascism.

"And isn't that evil? Ugh," the priest twinged.

"To a certain degree, you almost believe you know that these minors are being groomed for pedophilia," Gruenhagen continued.

"Who knows?" the man of the cloth interjected.

"In other words, you're trapped in this sexual behavior before you should be. And now we want to ban you from even getting any type of information. And it – there is some concern it could even apply to pastors and people outside," Gruenhagen claimed.

"And whatever happened to religious freedom?" the pastor asked.

"Amen," Gruenhagen replied.

"If a 16-year-old wants help from his, uh, counselor or a Christian co – so now you're gonna ban. I mean, this is evil," the faith leader declared.

Gruenhagen then rubbed salt into the metaphysical wounds.

"Personally, I have gay friends. In fact, my first bill that ever got through the House, the Senate, and [ex-]Governor [Mark] Dayton [(D)] signed, I had a, uh, homosexual lobbyist that helped me with that, but I also have former gay friends. Okay? People have left the lifestyle, gotten married, and have children," Gruenhagen added. "So, I mean, the point is the government is coming in with a heavy-handed approach, primarily the DFL and Governor Walz, and saying, you cannot try to help this child who's struggling with these problems."

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: Private communications with GOP legislators read like 'Handmaid's Tale' excerpts: report

GA State Rep. Park Cannon shows 'black market drugs' proving dangers of banning gender-affirming care

Rep. Park Cannon (D-GA) is committed to helping her colleagues understand the dangers of banning gender-affirming care in Georgia.

According to The Cullman Times, a Georgia GOP-backed bill could allow the banning of "sex reassignment surgeries or any other surgical procedures and hormone replacement therapies that are performed on anyone younger than age 18 for the purpose of altering primary or secondary sexual characteristics."

As Georgia House members gathered last week to vote on the legislation, Cannon, who is only queer, pleaded with her colleagues to protect transgender children.

READ MORE: Judge denies DeSantis’ request for 'mental examinations' for minors seeking gender-affirming care

The Cullman Times reported:

Nearly a dozen Democrats took their turns speaking against the bill, voicing concerns of the impact it could have on the mental health of transgender children, citing studies that indicate transgender youth have a much higher rate of suicide than any demographic of children.

Still, most House Republicans "voted to advance a bill they say will protect children."

The Recount tweeted Sunday, "At one point during the House debate, Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon (D) held up 'black market drugs for gender-affirming care' to denounce a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors."

The post followed up a previous tweet The Recount shared Friday, writing, "'It's not right. We don't even have a single transgender elected official in the state House or Senate. And yet, we're setting policy.' — State Rep. Park Cannon (D-GA) at Thursday's debate over a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors"

READ MORE: Nine states seeking to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth in 2023

During her speech, Cannon also noted, "In the Senate, we have someone who has a transgender child, and we did not listen to her on this bill."

The congresswoman said, "What's gonna the impact of this bill? I want to show you."

Holding up the drugs in her hand, she continued, "Do you know what this is...these are black market drugs for gender-affirming care. This is what parents will have to start giving their children, similar to the THC issue we had here when we were all so concerned about parents trying to help their kids through medical instances who needed support, instead of having to travel state lines, go on the black market, order and get it in black bags."

While holding the black market drug, she said "You have to break this — it is glass. It can be contaminated easily."

READ MORE: 'I will burn the session to the ground' over anti-trans bill, says Nebraska Democrat

Cannon then held up a prescription drug in comparison to the black market drug. She said, "This is given by a supportive provider. It has a prescription, it has information about what it does... I am begging you today. Please consider voting no on Senate Bill 140."

Watch the video below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'State power as an apparatus of cruelty': MN Gov. proves his state sets standard for protecting trans rights

The Cullman Times' full report is available at this link.

'Michael Knowles is a hypocrite': Right-wing pundit portrayed gay characters in multiple films

Right-wing Daily Wire host Michael Knowles, whose talk show is supremely focused on the dehumanization of LGBTQ+ people, had no problem dressing in drag and portraying gay roles on film as an actor in college, according to multiple internet sleuths who discovered Knowles' past performances earlier this week.

Knowles' filmography is available on IMDB. Media Matters for America also has an extensive collection of Knowles' bigoted diatribes.

On Friday, March 10th, Twitter user Witches Truth Post stated:

What's this? 'A 2020 tweet from Knowles said, 'Drag is funny because men aren't supposed to wear dresses. It seems our deranged society no longer understands either of those facts.' via The Daily Dot.

Here is Knowles, in drag, before those comments & before calling 'for the eradication of trans people from society.' Michael Knowles is a hypocrite. Let's not even start with him trying to do this as a way to insult a congresswoman + Indigenous lives. OR actually, let's start. What do you have against the Indigenous?

READ MORE: Watch: Right-wing host wants to 'ban transgenderism entirely' because of 'occult sexual rituals'

The next day, that same account shared another discovery.

OH NO: I've so far found a piece of a music video by Great Caesar - 'Don't Ask Me Why', where Michael Knowles plays a gay high school student who falls for another gay high school student that's being bullied for being gay.

It doesn't get more cringe than this when the message is a powerful one, but we see someone who wants to erase us starring in it. LGBTQIA+ / Trans Rights Are Human Rights / We Will NEVER Be Eradicated / Receipts Are Important.

Watch below:

READ MORE: 'Hate speech to genocide': Right-wing host uses CPAC stage to call for eradication of transgender people

Then, on Thursday, March 16th, a snippet of Knowles portraying a gay man who runs an on-campus brothel in The House of Shades (2012) was posted to Twitter by an account called Right Wing Cope:

I just found an old short film that Michael Knowles acted in. The current headliner of conservative homophobia and transphobia played a gay twink. So much for restoring 'traditional masculinity.' The current strongest fighter for neonazism is Adin Ross, a Jewish dude and literal fart sniffer who's barely literate. The strongest fighter for homophobia and transphobia played a gay twink in a student film. They are NOT sending their best. To any college art teachers who are following me, please steer your white male students in the right direction. The last time a failed white male art student got into power, the Holocaust happened.

Watch below:

Watch the full version below via YouTube or at this link.

The House of Shades (student film)

READ MORE: Michael Knowles speaks on college campus despite student protests against his 'dehumanizing rhetoric'

'Important victory' for Florida higher education as court upholds block on DeSantis censorship law

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday kept in place a preliminary injunction against Florida GOP policymakers' school censorship law in what rights advocates celebrated as "an important victory for professors, other educators, and students."

The appellate court denied a request from Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration and higher education officials to block a district judge's injunction that is currently preventing enforcement of the Stop Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act—rebranded by its supporters as the Individual Freedom Act—in the state's public colleges and universities.

DeSantis' Stop WOKE Act "limits the ways concepts related to systemic racism and sex discrimination can be discussed in teaching or conducting training in workplaces or schools," parroting a Trump administration executive order that was ultimately rescinded by President Joe Biden, the ACLU explained last year.

The plaintiffs in one of the relevant cases, Pernell v. Florida Board of Governors, are represented by the national and state ACLU along with the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and Ballard Spahr, who first filed the federal suit last August—the same day U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, issued a separate injunction against the law related to employers.

The new appeals court order upholds the injunction Walker issued in November, which began by quoting George Orwell's novel 1984. Calling the controversial law "positively dystopian," the judge wrote at the time that "the powers in charge of Florida's public university system have declared the state has unfettered authority to muzzle its professors in the name of 'freedom.'"

Leah Watson, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program, said Thursday that "the court's decision to leave in place the preliminary injunction is a recognition of the serious injury posed to educators and students by the Stop WOKE Act."

"All students and educators deserve to have a free and open exchange about issues related to race in our classrooms," Watson argued, rather than censored discussions that erase "the history of discrimination and lived experiences of Black and Brown people, women and girls, and LGBTQ+ individuals."

LDF assistant counsel Alexsis Johnson similarly stressed that "institutions of higher education in Florida should have the ability to provide a quality education, which simply cannot happen when students and educators, including Black students and educators, feel they cannot speak freely about their lived experiences, or when they feel that they may incur a politician's wrath for engaging in a fact-based discussion of our history."

The order also pertains to a challenge filed by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) in September.

"Professors must be able to discuss subjects like race and gender without hesitation or fear of state reprisal," FIRE said Thursday. "Any law that limits the free exchange of ideas in university classrooms should lose in both the court of law and the court of public opinion."

The Stop WOKE Act is part of a nationwide effort by Republican state lawmakers and governors—especially DeSantis, a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate—to curtail what content can be shared and discussed in classrooms and workplaces.

"Since January 2021, 44 states have introduced bills or taken other steps that would restrict teaching critical race theory or limit how teachers can discuss racism and sexism," according to an Education Week analysis updated on Monday. "Eighteen states have imposed these bans and restrictions either through legislation or other avenues."

ACLU of Florida staff attorney Jerry Edwards warned Thursday that "lawmakers continue to threaten our democracy by attempting to curtail important discussions about our collective history and treatment of Black and Brown communities."

"This is an important step in preserving the truth, civil liberties, and a better future," Edwards said of the 11th Circuit's decision.

Though legal groups welcomed the order, the battle over the law is ongoing. The court will eventually rule on the merits of the case—which DeSantis' press secretary Bryan Griffin highlighted Thursday, adding, "We remain confident that the law is constitutional."

Opponents of the law are also undeterred, as Ballard Spahr litigation department chair Jason Leckerman made clear.

"The movement to restrict academic freedom and curtail the rights of marginalized communities is as pervasive as it is pernicious," he said. "We are proud of the work we have done so far with our partners, the ACLU and Legal Defense Fund, but the fight is far from over. Today, we'll take a moment to savor this result—and then we'll keep working."

This post has been updated with comment from FIRE and Gov. Ron DeSantis' press secretary.

'State power as an apparatus of cruelty': MN Gov. proves his state sets standard for protecting trans rights

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, is proud to lead a state that is setting the standard how to support and protect transgender rights, PBS reports.

The governor joined PBS News Hour to discuss his recent and notable executive order, which guarantees gender affirming care for Minnesotans.

Host Geoff Bennett asked Walz why he felt the executive order was "necessary" right now, considering "Minnesota is a Blue state."

READ MORE: Minnesota enshrines abortion as a 'fundamental right' as red states rage against reproductive choice

He replied, "Our trans neighbors, our children are feeling the pressure. You see states that are using state power as an apparatus of cruelty quite honestly, and we know that these are communities that are always under risk; we know they have some of the highest suicide rates and attacks of hate-crimes."

Walz also emphasized, through the executive order, the state is "making it clear" that "if you come to Minnesota, we will protect your rights," unlike other states "trying to take away basic, and in many cases, life-saving healthcare."

The governor added other states are "making life difficult for people," by "quite frankly trying to criminalize people for being who they are." He reiterated, "that's not going to happen in Minnesota."

Furthermore, Walz's executive order not only protects trans rights, but it also restores voting rights for felons, allows undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses, and enacts gun legislation.

READ MORE: How far-right activists secretly devised a brutal 'anti-trans' attack plan: report

Additionally, while Minnesota GOP lawmakers continue to argue over whether kids deserve free school lunches, Walz — who is a "school teacher by trade" — recently signed legislation into law making "school lunch free for all students," according to Keloland News.

Watch the video below or at this link.

Minnesota governor says his state is national model for transgender

READ MORE: 'You hate me because': Candace Owens harshly criticizes Jamie Lee Curtis’ support of transgender daughter

PBS' full report is available at this link. Keloland News' report is here.

'My wife was not traumatized': Dennis Prager suggests women used to be less phased by sexual harassment

Conservative talk show Dennis Prager said during a recent segment of his show women are more traumatized by sexual assault than they used to be, Media Matters for America reports.

Prager, who is notoriously known for making misogynistic comments, opened the segment by saying, "So, this is a subject of massive interest - how women react to sexual harassment. I mean, it's a very complex subject. And I -- again, just to make it clear, I zero tolerate the idea of men doing it because it's wrong and it's stupid."

The right-wing commentator's monologue then took a turn.

READ MORE: Matt Schlapp whisked away at CPAC from reporter asking about groping allegations

Jason Campbell shared a clip of Prager speaking on his thoughts around sexual harassment, writing, Dennis Prager: “Women, until the recent past, did not regard' sexual harassment 'as trauma.'"

Prager continued, "My wife was not traumatized by the manager at her restaurant where she was a waitress and groped her breasts. She pushed them away and then took the next order for a hamburger, which was a great act on her part, because she's a vegetarian."

Opposed to addressing the acts of harm, the host concluded his spiel by asserting individuals should take responsibility for their own reactions to traumatic experiences.

"You decide how to react to offensive things that happen to you," Prager said. "It is completely in your control."

READ MORE: 'No secular argument against adult incest': Dennis Prager downplays the dangers of inbreeding

Watch the video below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'Pure misogyny': Dennis Prager ripped for accusing women of 'disproportionately' destroying America

'You hate me because': Candace Owens harshly criticizes Jamie Lee Curtis’ support of transgender daughter

Candace Owen, founder of The BLEXIT Organization, bashed actress and LGBTQ+ advocate, Jamie Lee Curtis for outwardly supporting her transgender daughter, Media Matters for America reports.

According to CNN, in 2021, Curtis revealed her daughter identifies as a transgender woman, and the actress most recently noted she will "be referring to her Oscar statue using they/them pronouns 'in support of my daughter Ruby.'"

Owens took some time during her The Daily Wire show to criticize Curtis' recent interview with ALOK, who is an author, comedian and transgender activist.

READ MORE: Arkansas Republican asks trans woman about her genitals during hearing on anti-trans bill

The conservative host noted, referring to Curtis, "Do not like her as an individual in her real life, can't really speak about her acting. I've always, actually, thought she was a pretty good actress. Well, she has said that she has a daughter or a son that's trans, and so she kind of beats the drum about trans issues all the time because of this."

Owens continued — before playing a video from the pair's interview — "Obviously, she does not have a son or daughter that is trans no more than somebody has a dog that is a vegan. But whatever, I guess she wants you to believe that this is really not just an example of poor parenting."

ALOK said, "And you hate me because I template what it means to be alive. You hate me because I show you that you didn't have to clip your own wings, that you didn't have to live an abbreviated version of your joy, that you didn't have to wait for pride."

READ MORE: How far-right activists secretly devised a brutal 'anti-trans' attack plan: report

When the clip finished playing, Owens mocked the activist's words by saying, "Just, I would say, a poor choice of words, if nothing else. You didn't have to clip your wings. Okay, well, you don't have to clip your penis. You don't have to clip your breasts. Okay?"

ALOK further noted, "[Transgender people] have the audacity to love the parts of ourselves that other people hate in themselves."

Watch the video below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'Carte blanche to kidnap': Florida Republicans advancing extreme 'Don't Say They' anti-trans bills

Media Matters for America's full report is available at this link. CNN's full report is here.

FL bill enforces teaching 'benefits of monogamous heterosexual marriage' and bans discussion of menstruation

A Florida Republican lawmaker's bill would require schools to teach the "benefits of monogamous heterosexual marriage," effectively teach that transgender people don’t exist, ban young women from discussing menstrual cycles and menstruation, and would require students be falsely taught that HIV can only be contracted through sex.

State Rep. Stan McClain’s legislation, HB 1069 says "instruction in acquired immune deficiency syndrome, sexually transmitted diseases, or health education, when such instruction and course material contains instruction in human sexuality, such instruction may only occur in grades 6 through 12."

According to Rep. McClain, that would ban a fifth grade girl from discussing her period, as he stated when asked by Democratic state Rep. Ashley Gantt.

McCalin also conflates HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, with AIDS. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), HIV "is transmitted sexually, via blood transfusions, sharing intravenous needles, and from the mother to a child during the birth process and breastfeeding."

But according to Rep. McClain, students must be taught that "abstinence from sexual activity is a certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, including acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and other associated health problems."

READ MORE: That Republican Who Says There Are No Hungry Kids Because He Never Met One? He Also Spread Lies About Kids Identifying as Cats

McClain's bill also requires students to be taught "abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age students while teaching the benefits of monogamous heterosexual marriage," and that "sex is determined by biology and reproductive function at birth …and that these reproductive roles are binary, stable, and unchangeable."

The bill also requires methods to strengthen banning books.

Watch Reps. McClain and Gantt above or at this link.

Ron DeSantis selects far-right extremist to respond to Joe Biden's critique of Florida's anti-trans policies

Governor Ron DeSantis is hitting back at President Joe Biden, who slammed the Sunshine State's anti-transgender policies as "cruel" and "close to sinful." The far-right Florida Republican is using a far-right extremist, one has been accused of promoting stochastic terrorism, to make his point.

In a "Daily Show" interview with former Obama White House aide, actor Kal Penn, President Biden denounced Florida's anti-transgender policies.

"What's going on in Florida is, as my mother would say, 'close to sinful,'" President Biden told Penn. "It's just terrible what they're doing."

READ MORE: DeSantis and Far-Right Falsely Blame Wokeness and Diversity as Reason Silicon Valley Bank Collapsed (Video)

"It's not like a kid wakes up one morning and says, 'You know, I decided I want to become a man or I want to become a woman," Biden added. "I mean, what are they thinking about here? They're human beings, they love, they have feelings, they have inclinations. It's cruel."

Kal Penn & President Biden Talk Same-Sex Marriage | The Daily

Governor DeSantis has quickly become an expert at using the powers of his office to target the left and especially minority communities in a massive "culture war" designed to pave the road for a 2024 presidential run.

DeSantis' "Don’t Say Gay" law has been copied by other far-right states, as it causes a massive reworking of the entire state's public education system, including school libraries that have pulled all books off the shelves as teachers, librarians, and administrators are terrified of being sued.

In January, The Associated Press reported, a DeSantis survey asked "state universities for the number and ages of their students who sought gender dysphoria treatment, including sex reassignment surgery and hormone prescriptions."

"The survey was released the same day the university presidents voted to support DeSantis' anti-woke agenda and to reject 'the progressivist higher education indoctrination agenda' and committing to 'removing all woke positions and ideologies by February 1, 2023,' according to a Department of Education news release," the AP noted.

In response, sixteen Democratic state attorneys general denounced the request for information on transgender students, noting that "public reports suggest that you may seek to use the information sought to eliminate funding for necessary gender-affirming health care for students."

READ MORE: Donald Trump Just Called for Another Coup and Hardly Anyone Even Noticed

One month later, in February, members of Florida's boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine both – having voted to deny "necessary gender-affirming health care to trans youth," as The Intercept's Natasha Lennard wrote – "responded with a unanimous vote for even tighter restrictions."

In March, Florida lawmakers filed several anti-LGBTQ bills, upping the total this year in the Sunshine State to 11, according to a tally from the ACLU.

And last year, as GLAAD noted, Gov. DeSantis outright lied about gender-affirming care, saying: "They will actually take a young boy and castrate the boy. They will take a young girl and do a mastectomy, or they will sterilize her because of the gender dysphoria. There is no evidence that this is something that's effective medical care."

GLAAD noted: "Longstanding best practices medical care for trans youth does not include surgeries or sterilization on young children. Every major medical association supports gender-affirming care as evidence-based, lifesaving care, with growing and consistent research that it improves mental health and wellbeing for transgender and nonbinary youth."

That's just a slice of DeSantis' anti-LGBTQ work in his time as governor.

In response to President Biden saying what's going on in the far-right governor's state is "terrible," "cruel," and "close to sinful," DeSantis turned to the Twitter account of Libs of TikTok, an extremist anti-LGBTQ social media influencer that promoted the hate-filled "groomer" attacks (as did DeSantis' former press secretary).

DeSantis could have grabbed and posted the Daily Show's video clip of President Biden to send his tweet, but he opted instead to send a message of where he stands on LGBTQ rights.

READ MORE: 'I Would Never Spank an Emotional Problem' Says Oklahoma Republican Voting Against Bill Banning Corporal Punishment

Retweeting the video via Libs of TikTok, DeSantis also reposted his anti-transgender lies:

"It is not 'sinful' to prohibit the mutilation of minors," he tweeted. "It is not acceptable for the federal government to mandate that procedures like sex change operations be allowed for kids."

The federal government is not mandating that "procedures like sex change operations be allowed for kids."

'It's simple. They love each other': President Joe Biden recalls his endorsement of same-sex marriage

In 2012, then-Vice President Joe Biden endorsed same-sex marriage as President Barack Obama's reelection campaign was getting underway. Now, more than a decade later, Biden revealed to The Daily Show what led to his change of heart.

"I'm curious what your evolution was like on marriage equality and what the federal government might be able to do to protect LGBTQ Americans, especially trans kids, who are dealing with all these regressive state laws that are popping up right now," correspondent Kal Penn asked of the president.

"I can remember exactly where my, uh, epiphany was," Biden began.

READ MORE: What does 'exposing' their hypocrisy get you? Nothing

"Hadn't thought much about it, to tell you the truth, and I, I was a senior in high school and my dad was dropping me off. I remember about to get out of the car and I looked to my right and two well-dressed men in suits kissed each other. I mean, they gave each other a kiss. And then one went, looked like he was heading to the DuPont building, and one looked like he headed to the Hercules Corporation building. And I never forget, I turned and looked to my dad, and he said, 'Joey, it's simple. They love each other. It's simple,'" Biden recalled.

"No, I'm not joking," he told a slightly surprised Penn. "It's simple. They love each other and it's never been – it's never been – it's just that simple. It doesn't matter whether it's, whether it's same-sex or a heterosexual couple, you should be able to be married. What is the problem? So listen to your auntie and your uncle. Get married. Do it now. Don't wait."

Biden then admonished right-wing attacks on trans kids and gender equality.

"Uh, transgender kids is a really harder day thing. What's going on in Florida is, as my mother would say, close to sinful. I mean, it's just terrible what they're doing. It's not like, you know, a kid wakes up one morning and says, you know, I decided I want to become a man, or I want to become a woman, or I want to cha I mean, what, what, what, what are they thinking about?" Biden said. "They're human beings. They love, they have feelings, they have inclinations that are, I mean, it, it just to me is, I don't know. It's cruel. And the way we do it is we make sure we pass legislation like we passed on same-sex marriage. You mess with that, you're breaking the law and you're gonna be held accountable."

READ MORE: 'Carte blanche to kidnap': Florida Republicans advancing extreme 'Don't Say They' anti-trans bills

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: Michael Knowles speaks on college campus despite student protests against his 'dehumanizing rhetoric'

Watch: Tennessee GOP lieutenant gov. says he's 'really, really sorry' for liking explicit social media posts

Republicans in the Tennessee State Legislature have been pushing a socially conservative agenda designed to please the Religious Right, from anti-abortion proposals to anti-transgender bills to calls to end same-sex marriage. Yet conservative Republican Lt. Gov. Randy McNally has stirred controversy with his activities on social media, which include making suggestive comments to a 20-year-old gay man and "liking" some off-color posts.

The 79-year-old McNally addressed that controversy during an interview with Channel 5 News Nashville aired on Thursday, March 9.

McNally told Channel 5 News, "I'm really, really sorry if I've embarrassed my family, embarrassed my friends, embarrassed any of the members of the legislature with the posts. It was not my intent to (embarrass them) and not my intent to hurt them."

READ MORE: 'Control — that’s all they care about': How Tennessee’s 'unconstitutional' anti-abortion law imperils women

McNally, during the interview, said that he befriended the young man on Facebook and Instagram. The Tennessee Republican, responding to a post that showed him scantily clad, posted, "You can turn a rainy day into rainbows and sunshine." And McNally "liked" some posts in which he made risqué comments. In one post, the man wrote that he was a "hoe" but "not a whore." He also wrote, "I’m the one that gets free weed for giving h**d."

McNally was asked, "When people see these posts, what should they take away from them?" And he told Channel 5 News, "Well, I don't know that they should take away a whole lot."

When asked if it was appropriate for him to be liking some of the more risqué posts, the Republican replied, "Probably not. Probably not."

READ MORE:'Every state can decide her destiny': This Tennessee Republican is campaigning on ending same-sex marriage

Watch the full video below or at this link.

'Carte blanche to kidnap': Florida Republicans advancing extreme 'Don't Say They' anti-trans bills

Florida Republican officials are ramping up their proposals of anti-transgender laws, Orlando Sentinel reports.

The proposed bills, according to Orlando Sentinel, are specifically "aimed at preventing transgender children from transitioning," as and one piece of legislation would even "allow the state to take a child away from a parent even 'at risk' of doing so."

This comes as right wing host Michael Knowles called for the eradication of transgender people during his 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) speech.

READ MORE: Arkansas Republican asks trans woman about her genitals during hearing on anti-trans bill

Orlando Sentinel reports Knowles' colleague, Matt Walsh, "said earlier this year he'd 'rather be dead' than have one of his children be transgender."

LGBTQ activists have deemed GOP Rep. Adam Anderson's bill as "Don't Say They" — a play on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' "Don't Say Gay" legislation — "because it would prohibit public school students from using pronouns that don’t correspond to their birth gender."

NPR reports:

With the encouragement of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the state's Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine both passed rules that will ban gender-affirming care such as pubertyblockers and cross-sex hormones, as well as surgical procedures, for new patients under age 18.

READ MORE: Daily Wire host: 'There can’t be a genocide' of trans people because it’s 'not a legitimate category of being'

State Republican Sen. Clay Yarborough's legislation, according to Orlando Sentinel, "would prohibit any school employee from asking anyone about their preferred pronouns," and ban "instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in private pre-schools and public grade schools until the ninth grade."

State GOP Congressman Randy Fine proposed several bills, including one set to perpetuate the "targeting of drag shows by threatening to 'fine, suspend, or revoke the license' of any business that admits a child to an 'adult live performance,'" and another, which would "ban any puberty-blocking hormones and gender-affirming care for transgender minors."

Another Yarborough-sponsored bill takes Fine's legislation a step further, by threatening to charge anyone who offers transitioning treatment "to minors" with a third-degree felony. Not only that, but it would also "grant the state emergency jurisdiction over a child present in the state, even if he or she lives in another state."

However, Director of the South Florida-based nonprofit TransSOCIAL, Ashley Mayfaire, said, "the bill's language doesn’t specify who would have the right to take control of a child for that purpose."

READ MORE: How far-right activists secretly devised a brutal 'anti-trans' attack plan: report

She noted, "It could be grandparents or parents that don't have custody rights [given] carte blanche to kidnap. It's really a horrible way to frame transition care as a form of child abuse."

Regarding these potential advancement of these types of bills, Liz Bostock, a 13-year-old Florida resident who "identifies as female and transgender," told NPR, "If it gets too bad, I'm also already thinking about for high school going to a boarding school that isn't in Florida," she said, "which would honestly make things a lot easier."

Mayfaire mentioned "not everyone has the means to just go." She noted, “There's definitely socio-economic barriers. But it's very similar to what they're doing with the abortion bans. It's removing options for folks so they have to face tremendous barriers to get the care that they need medically. They're creating ... refugees in their own states."

Brandon Wolf, spokesman for LGBTQ advocacy group, Equality Florida, told Orlando Sentinel, "At its core, it is a reductive worldview that sees people as nothing more than their reproductive organs. And I've never seen a group of people more obsessed with what genitals other people have than the right wing."

READ MORE: 'Full elimination of recognition': Parents could legally kidnap trans kids under proposed Florida bill

The Orlando Sentinel's full report is available at this link (subscription required). NPR's full report is here.

'Just being bullies': House Democrat lambasts GOP colleagues' 'deliberate attack' on transgender community

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), recently blasted his Republican colleagues for their "deliberate attack" on transgender people, calling the conservative lawmakers "bullies."

The Recount tweeted videos of an exchange between the California congressman and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) — first sharing Gomez's comment — writing, "'You're not being tough. You're not being patriots. You're being bullies.' — Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) slams Republicans for their 'deliberate attack' against the transgender community, citing high rates of suicide, unemployment, poverty, and homelessness."

The account also shared Mace's words, tweeting, "Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC): 'I find it offensive that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are calling us bullies because we don’t want to chop off the breasts of a 15-year-old girl.'"

READ MORE: 'Full elimination of recognition': Parents could legally kidnap trans kids under proposed Florida bill

Gomez noted "all the comments that have been made regarding gender affirming care and the transgender community" are "a concerted strategy by the Republican majority to scapegoat this community, and they're just being bullies."

The congressman continued, "You're picking a fight, literally, with one of the most marginalized, one of the most discriminated groups in our country."

Gomez also noted discrimination against transgender people will not "create a single job, put people back to work or lift up our communities," and asserted many GOP lawmakers "are just doing this to score political points for the 2024 election."

Watch the videos below or at this link.

READ MORE: Nancy Mace keeps getting 'called to the principal’s office' for bucking MAGA Republicans: interview

Watch: Lauren Boebert wants 'comprehensive sex ed' banned from public schools

United States Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) called for totally abolishing sex education during an interview at this weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

"But we have to get aggressive and say, you know, there is going to be money spent in the Department of Education that is going to be funded. What do we want that funding to go towards? What do we not want it to go towards? Because there are schools that are worse than that are teaching worse than just gender ideology," Boebert, a right-wing conservative, said.

"Yeah, I mean, they have comprehensive sex ed. They're teaching kids how to have and enjoy sex, and even same-sex sex, how to pleasure themselves. This is not something elementary students should learn, nor any student in a public school," she continued. "Um, so, you know, these are the things that we need to go after and, um, and cut their funding."

READ MORE: 'God forbid that ever come up': Fox News hosts shocked that sex education exists

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: Watch: 'Don’t Say Gay' law doesn’t 'go far enough' Nikki Haley says in shot at DeSantis and attack on LGBTQ people

Nearly 400 anti-LGBTQ bills are working their way through 38 state legislatures

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is tracking 385 anti-LGBTQ bills filed by lawmakers across 38 states targeting the vulnerable community on at least seven broad issues including schools and education, healthcare, free speech, access to accurate IDs, public accommodations, weakening of civil rights laws, marriage, and more. The number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced has more than tripled since mid-January, and far exceeded the total number of bills introduced in all of 2022, which was 278.

Oklahoma has the most anti-LGBTQ bills so far at 35, followed by Missouri (34), Texas (29 bills), Tennessee (26), Iowa (28), Mississippi (24), Indiana and North Dakota (17 each), South Carolina (16), Kansas, Virginia, and West Virginia (12 each), and Arizona, Florida, and Kentucky (11 each).

The ACLU says its list is updated weekly (although it increased as NCRM was writing this article) and says it only includes bills filed through last Friday, March 3.

"While not all of these bills will become law, they all cause harm for LGBTQ people," the ACLU notes.

Studies have shown that when an anti-LGBTQ bill is introduced, LGBTQ people, and especially LGBTQ youth, suffer heightened emotional distress.

READ MORE: 'Leave Us the Hell Alone': Brian Sicknick's Family Slams 'Sleaze Slinging' Fox for Claiming Death Unrelated to J6 Rioters

Not all bills cover only a single issue. For example, in Florida, HB 1421 attacks issues related to health care, public accommodations, and civil rights.

Civil rights attorney and activist Alejandra Caraballo, a Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic instructor who also tracks anti-LGBTQ legislation, says "HB 1421 not only bans care for minors, it will severely limit and disrupt access to care for all trans adults by eliminating most providers and private insurance coverage."

That bill's sponsor, Florida Republican state Rep. Randy Fineserved up his own take on the anti-trans legislation: "The butchering of children will be illegal in Florida, Florida citizens will not be obligated to pay for the sexual mutilation of adults, and those tricked into this evil will have 30 years to sue those who misled them. That's HB 1421 and I am proud to file it."

READ MORE: The Left Is 'Coming for Our Children': Marjorie Taylor Greene at CPAC Serves Up Hate in Anti-LGBTQ Religious Rant

Fine is no stranger to extremism. Last year he issued what appeared to be a threat against President Joe Biden, after the President addressed the nation hours after 19 second, third, and fourth-grade school children and two teachers were massacred in one of the nation's worst mass shootings. Previously, Fine was once investigated but not prosecuted for cyberintimidation, among other allegations.

Alaska says it’s now legal 'in some instances' to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

In June 2020, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that workplace discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity was illegal, Alaska quickly moved to follow suit.

It published new guidelines in 2021 saying Alaska’s LGBTQ protections now extended beyond the workplace to housing, government practices, finance and “public accommodation.” It updated the website of the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights to explicitly say it was illegal to discriminate against someone because of that person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The executive director for the state commission co-wrote an essay describing the ruling as a “sea change under Alaska law for LGBTQ+ individuals’ rights to be free from discrimination.”

But a year later, the commission quietly reversed that position. It deleted language from the state website promising equal protections for transgender and gay Alaskans against most categories of discrimination, and it began refusing to investigate complaints. Only employment-related complaints would now be accepted, and investigators dropped any non-employment LGBTQ civil rights cases they had been working on.

An investigation by the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica found the decision had been requested by a conservative Christian group and was made the week of the Republican primary for governor, in which Gov. Mike Dunleavy was criticized for not being conservative enough. The commission made the change on the advice of Attorney General Treg Taylor and announced it publicly via its Twitter feed — which currently has 31 followers — on Election Day.

The LGBTQ advocacy nonprofit Identity Alaska called the reversal “state-sponsored discrimination.”

The group noted that discrimination against LGBTQ people can occur in a variety of domains, including housing, financing and other decisions by the state. “The real-world consequences of these policies are harms to LGBTQIA+ Alaskans,” Identity Alaska’s board said in a written statement to the Daily News and ProPublica.

“Without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity, all Alaskans should be protected against discrimination at the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights,” the statement said.

Robert Corbisier, who has been executive director of the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights since 2019, said the attorney general directed him to make the change in an email, though Corbisier said he would not provide the news organizations with a copy of it. He said that Taylor said the Supreme Court case, known as Bostock v. Clayton County, was limited to employment discrimination and therefore the agency should limit its own enforcement to employment matters, unless the state Legislature expanded its authority.

Taylor is Dunleavy’s third attorney general appointee. The governor’s first choice, Kevin Clarkson, resigned in August 2020 when the Daily News and ProPublica reported he sent hundreds of unwanted texts to a colleague. Dunleavy’s next nominee to lead the Alaska Department of Law, Ed Sniffen, resigned as the newsrooms were preparing an article about a woman who had accused him of sexual misconduct that occurred in 1991. (Based on those accusations, the state charged Sniffen with three felony counts of sexual abuse of a minor. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.)

Taylor refused to be interviewed. In response to questions about the timing and purpose of his communications with the commission, his office provided a written statement.

“The Department of Law’s role is to provide legal advice to state government based on the law. The department does not make policy. Policy decisions are left up to the department’s clients, which include most executive branch departments, divisions, agencies, boards and commissions, including ASCHR,” Taylor said. “As necessitated by changes in the law or the need to correct prior advice, the department will update the advice it has previously provided to its clients.”

The office noted that Alaska joined other states in suing the federal government in August 2021 to block the application of the Bostock decision to LGBTQ people in schools and government jobs. A federal judge sided with the states and issued a preliminary injunction last year; the federal government is appealing.

Dunleavy declined interview requests. In a written statement, a spokesperson said, “The Governor’s office was not involved in the Department of Law’s legal advice on LGBTQ+ discrimination cases.”

Asked why the commission changed its policy based on a brief communication from the attorney general, Corbisier said, “The attorney general is counsel to the agency. And, I mean, I’m a lawyer. I’ve been in private practice. I think you should do what your lawyer tells you to do.”

The human rights commission describes itself as an impartial, nonpartisan arm of state government. Dunleavy ordered an investigation into the former executive director in 2019, for example, after she made a post to the agency’s Facebook page criticizing a “black rifles matter” sticker as racist.

The post drew an outcry from Alaska conservatives and gun owners, and the director was suspended for 15 days. She soon resigned, followed by the commission chairman, a gay Black man. Both said at the time that they hoped their departures would help the commission put the controversy to rest and allow it to resume its work.

The current commission chairperson said he once filed an equal opportunity employment complaint claiming he had been passed over for a job in the U.S. Army because he is a man. He has in the past year posted tweets questioning the validity of transgender identity.

“So this Roe v. Wade leak is said to be a preview of an attack against women. To the Left, what’s a woman,” the chair, Zackary Gottshall, tweeted on May 3, 2022. Two months later he retweeted a statement by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, saying, “Crazy this needs to be said, but men can’t get pregnant.”

Asked by the Daily News and ProPublica about his views on transgender issues, Gottshall wrote: “As per my religious beliefs and convictions, I believe in the family unit as a whole, that being a primary social group consisting of parents and children. Everyone has the right to define themselves and/or identify themselves as they see fit. Everyone also has the right to respectfully disagree based upon the protections under the 1st Amendment.”

Gottshall’s wife, Heather Gottshall, served as campaign field director for Kelly Tshibaka, who lost to incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski last year. As a Harvard Law student, Tshibaka wrote in support of an organization that advocated for gay conversion therapy, stating that “unlike race or gender, homosexuality is a choice.” Heather Gottshall also is one of three registered directors for a nonprofit called Preserve Democracy, created by Tshibaka in December.

The commission reelected Zackary Gottshall as chairman at its annual meeting on Feb. 22.

State law does not explicitly offer civil rights protection to gay and transgender people.

But under federal law, Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 “prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.”

With the Bostock ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court found sex discrimination includes discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In Alaska, the state Supreme Court has found that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act provides the framework for Alaska’s civil rights laws.

It was based on that precedent that the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights began accepting all categories of anti-LGBTQ discrimination complaints in 2021.

“The guidance we received from the Department of Law was, ‘You should be taking all LGBTQ cases’” in the areas in which the commission has jurisdiction, Corbisier said in a recent interview. “So employment, public accommodation, sale and rental of real property, credit and financing, and government practices. Retaliation is also a covered jurisdiction.”

That legal advice, he said, came from Kevin Higgins, an assistant attorney general assigned to advise the commission.

Neither Higgins nor Corbisier would provide the written advice, saying it was covered by attorney-client privilege.

Even so, the advice from the state Department of Law suggested that the Bostock decision had broader implications for LGBTQ rights in Alaska.

“We started thinking we had the ability to take cases across the board,” Corbisier said.

Jim Minnery, the president of the conservative Christian group Alaska Family Council, became aware of the new policy. The family council does not hesitate to criticize Republican candidates for what it considers to be too liberal a view of LGBTQ issues.

“The AK State Commission on Human Rights is simply another bureaucracy trying to seize power to make its own laws. This can’t pass in Juneau through elected office holders so they’re trying to pull an end run,” Minnery said in a text message.

Minnery said his group informed the Dunleavy administration in the beginning of 2021 that “the ASCHR was trying to use the Bostock ruling to circumvent having to pass legislation.”

The attorney general’s office said Minnery’s group did not influence its guidance.

What is clear, however, is that around the time of last year’s primary election, the attorney general personally got involved.

Unlike in most states, the Alaska attorney general is appointed by the governor rather than elected.

Dunleavy appointed Taylor as acting attorney general after Sniffen resigned in January 2021. Taylor had twice run unsuccessfully for local political office. Since becoming attorney general, he has appeared on public records as the director for a group that paid for attack ads on Democratic candidates during the 2022 election cycle and is advertised as the host for a $15,000-a-head fundraiser the group is planning this summer.

Dunleavy entered the summer facing two well-funded Republicans who positioned themselves as more conservative than the incumbent.

On a July 8 talk radio show in Kenai, host Bob Bird called on the governor’s spokesperson to explain why Dunleavy had settled a federal lawsuit that now allowed public funds to be used for transgender surgeries and hormone treatments.

What would Dunleavy do, Bird hypothesized, if the Supreme Court “ruled that white males were not fully human,” according to an account by the conservative faith-based news website Alaska Watchman.

“At what point would say a governor, a so-called conservative governor, say we’re just not going to obey that because white males are human beings?” Bird asked, according to the website.

The Dunleavy spokesperson, Dave Stieren, said he had asked the same question in an effort to understand the state’s choices for paying for gender-affirming surgeries, the site reported. He said his understanding, at the time, was that Alaska’s federal Medicaid funding was at risk if the state refused the payments.

Bird at one point told the governor’s spokesperson: “The people will rally to somebody who shows spine.”

On July 11, the commission received a briefing on the status of LGBTQ protections in Alaska at the request of Gottshall. According to a copy of the briefing, provided by Gottshall, the commission at that time was still investigating all categories of discrimination against Alaskans based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Within the next few weeks, the director for the state human rights commission received a new email about the Bostock ruling and LGBTQ rights law in Alaska. This time it was from the attorney general himself, Corbisier said in a phone interview.

He said the email was “not a formal AG opinion.”

“The substance of it was, you know, ‘Your jurisdiction is for LGBTQ, is just employment,’” he said.

The Department of Law has not yet responded to a records request for the email.

It’s unclear when Taylor sent the email, but Corbisier said it was just before the commission posted a note about the change to Twitter and Facebook on Aug. 16, the day of the primary election.

“Based upon updated legal advice, ASCHR will only be able to take LGBTQ+ employment discrimination cases filed under AS 18.80.220. Our position that LGBTQ+ discrimination applied to places of public accommodation, housing, credit/financing, and government practices is void,” the social media posts said.

The agency issued no press release saying it was rolling back enforcement of equality laws. There was no essay or editorials. The human rights commission’s social media posts reached only a smattering of followers on the day of the statewide primary elections.

The commission also began deleting language from its website.

The homepage, as of Aug. 15, had stated, “In Alaska it is illegal to discriminate in employment, places of public accommodation, sale of rental or real property, financing and credit, practices by the state or its political subdivisions because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation / gender identity or ‘expression,’ national origin, physical disability.”

According to the Internet Archive, the page was changed sometime between Aug. 16 and Aug. 18 to remove the words: “sexual orientation / gender identity or ‘expression’” from the list of reasons it is illegal to discriminate against someone.

A line was added lower on the page saying that it is “in some instances” illegal to discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Elsewhere on the website, the commission removed a link to a document called “ASCHR LGBTQ Discrimination Guide.”

In the meantime, the commission stopped accepting complaints of LGBTQ discrimination except for those that are workplace related.

It’s unclear how many non-workplace complaints the commission received during the year it was accepting those cases. At first, Corbisier said he couldn’t provide that number because complaints are confidential under state law.

When reminded that the commission does publish an annual report that provides the number of complaints received based on the category of discrimination, Corbisier said, “You might have just caught me because I know we started tracking LGBTQ (complaints) when that jurisdiction originally changed.”

The director later called back to say no statistics would be available on the number and nature of anti-LGBTQ complaints the commission received because that information was not tracked within its database. (Any such complaints would have been filed under the more broad category of sex discrimination, he said.)

The commission’s 2022 annual report showed 134 complaints were filed in 2022, including 25 based on sex.

Brandon Nakasato served on the human rights commission from 2016 to 2019. He resigned as chairman around the same time the former director was suspended for publicly criticizing the “black rifles matter” sticker she saw on a truck in the agency’s parking lot.

It hasn’t been a smooth ride since. The agency made headlines in November 2022 when its former executive director, a black woman, sued the state saying that she was subjected to a hostile work environment, underpaid compared with past directors and fired because of her gender, race and status as a military veteran. The state denied the claims in a November answer to the lawsuit; the case is awaiting trial in federal court.

Nakasato had been part of an effort in 2016 to try and convince the Alaska Legislature, unsuccessfully, to change state law to enshrine civil rights protections for gay and transgender people so that the commission wouldn’t have to rely on the whims of judges.

“I think legislators need to hear how this lack of protection is hurting people,” he said. “I was one of those little gay kids that considered killing themselves, living in a rural area, who believes that they were the weirdest person on earth. And there are teens like that in the (Alaska) Bush right now who need to hear that their leaders are caring for them too.”

Ron DeSantis keeps appointing conservatives with 'radical fringe beliefs': MSNBC producer

After Florida Republican Governor Ron Desantis last week appointed a far-right Christian extremist who believes tap water may turn people gay, an MSNBC producer and editor is calling him out.

"DeSantis keeps tapping conservatives for official positions of influence, and they have something important in common: a set of radical fringe beliefs," says MSNBC's Steve Benen, a producer on The Rachel Maddow Show and the editor of The MaddowBlog.

Benen points to DeSantis now fully stripping Disney World of its fifty-year special self-governing status after the Magic Kingdom's corporate leaders criticized his "Don't Say Gay" bill. DeSantis' appointment of Ron Peri, a former pastor who now runs the far-Christian right men's ministry called The Gathering to the new Disney World area oversight board leads Benen to ask, "Has Gov. Ron DeSantis tapped far-right conservatives to serve in key government positions despite their radical records or because of them?"

CNN's KFile last week reported Peri has "frequently" made derogatory remarks about LGBTQ people, and "shared a baseless conspiracy theory that tap water could be making more people gay."

READ MORE: After Being Mocked Over Three 'Nutcase' Whistleblowers Jim Jordan Now Threatening 16 FBI Agents With Subpoenas

"So why are there homosexuals today?" Peri asked in a January 2022 Zoom discussion. "There are any number of reasons, you know, that are given. Some would say the increase in estrogen in our societies. You know, there's estrogen in the water from birth control pills. They can't get it out."

"The level of testosterone in men broadly in America has declined by 50 points in the past 10 years," he has also claimed. "You know, and so, maybe that's a part of it."

"But the big part I would suggest to you, based upon what it's saying here, is the removal of constraint," Peri also said. "So our society provided the constraint. And so, which is the responsibility of a society to constrain people from doing evil? Well, you remove the constraints, and then evil occurs."

In other words, Peri believes that being LGBTQ is the result of water laced with drugs, or "evil."

It's not just Peri.

Benen adds, "It's also worth appreciating the Republican governor's broader track record when it comes to making personnel assessments. DeSantis had a great many choices for state surgeon general, for example, but he picked Dr. Joseph Ladapo, despite — or perhaps because of — the physician's highly controversial record."

"Similarly, the governor had an opportunity last year to appoint a new Florida secretary of state — an office that helps administer state elections. DeSantis tapped Cord Byrd, who has partnered with election deniers and has refused to say President Joe Biden won the 2020 election."

READ MORE: 'Emperor With No Clothes': DeSantis Mocked for Being Unable to Say How He Would Handle Ukraine as President

"Byrd's wife, meanwhile, has taken some radical positions related to the Jan. 6 attack, the Proud Boys, and even the QAnon delusion — and DeSantis appointed Esther Byrd to the state board of education."

There's more.

Benen doesn't mention her but Gov. DeSantis' former official spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, who switched over to his political campaign office, is the one largely responsible for getting the damaging and offensive "groomer" label against LGBTQ people to go viral.

Recently, Pushaw pinned her response to a VICE News tweet to the top of her Twitter account page.

The tweet reads: "If DeSantis gets his way—and he likely will—diversity, equity and inclusion efforts will be eliminated from every public college and university in Florida."

Pushaw's one-word response: "Good."

Also not mentioned in the article is DeSantis' highly-controversial appointment of far-right activist Christopher Rufo to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees. Rufo is the Manhattan Institute extremist behind the right’s CRT panic.

In 2021, Rufo bragged he wants to "have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think 'critical race theory,'" and "put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category." Last summer he told conservatives to make drag queens "more lurid" and sexual.

"Conservatives should start using the phrase 'trans stripper' in lieu of 'drag queen,'" Rufo said on Twitter, despite drag queens not generally being transgender. "It has a more lurid set of connotations and shifts the debate to sexualization."

It's little wonder DeSantis found a home in Florida for Rufo.

"Mr. Rufo has taken aim at opponents of a new Florida law that prohibits teachers in some grades from discussing L.G.B.T.Q. issues and that critics call 'Don't Say Gay,'" The New York Times reported last year in April. "He declared 'moral war' against the statute's most prominent adversary, the Walt Disney Company. And he has used the same playbook that proved effective in his crusade on racial issues: a leak of insider documents."

Rufo consulted on and appeared with Governor Ron DeSantis "at the signing of a bill known as the Stop W.O.K.E. Act, which bars teaching in workplaces and schools that anyone is inherently biased or privileged because of race or sex," The Times added, noting that Rufo "warned Disney that an in-house program it had run that urged discussion of systemic racism was 'now illegal in the state of Florida.'"

Last week, Florida Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky likened DeSantis' takeover of state boards, (which he is doing via appointments,) to "fascist regimes," as the Florida Phoenix reported.

"When you look to fascist regimes, it starts with beating down the press. Beating down academics. Excluding minorities. Targeting minorities – I think exactly what he's (DeSantis) doing with the LGBTQ community fits into that. And with the Black community with AP African American studies," Polsky told the Phoenix. "That's how it starts. And you control all levels of government, and you ban books. And so that is how it starts, and to me, that's what it looks like is going on right now."

'Hate speech to genocide': Right-wing host uses CPAC stage to call for eradication of transgender people

Conservative political commentator, Michael Knowles, called for the eradication of transgender people during his 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) speech, The Daily Beast reports.

Writer Alejandra Caraballo tweeted a clip from Knowles' CPAC speech, writing, "Michael Knowles is openly calling for genocide against trans people at CPAC." She then included the Daily Wire host's quote: "Transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely."

The Daily Beast reports:

Saturday does not mark the first time Knowles' has used this anti-transgender rhetoric. Just last week, Knowles' responded to backlash he faced for a similar transphobic comment calling for a ban on "transgenderism."

READ MORE: Marco Rubio wants to reinstate Trump’s ban on transgender service members

Last month on The Michael Knowles Show, he said, "I don't know how you could have a genocide of transgender people because genocide refers to genes, it refers to genetics, it refers to biology. And the whole point of transgenderism is that it has nothing to do with biology."

Additionally, during his CPAC address, Knowles asserted, "If transgenderism is false, as it is; if men really can't become women, as they cannot; then it's false for everybody, too." He continued, "And if it's false, then we should not indulge it. Especially since that indulgence requires taking away the rights and customs of so many people."

Caraballo directed another tweet towards the right-wing commentator, saying, "What exactly do you think 'eradication' entails? If you ever wondered how we get from hate speech to genocide, this is it. This isn't some fringe figure, this is a Daily Wire host speaking at CPAC. This is how pogroms start."

READ MORE: 'Radical gender ideology': Mike Pence attacks transgender children in the name of God

Watch the video below or at this link.

READ MORE: Why transgender Americans in North Dakota are considering fleeing the United States: report

The Daily Beast's full report is available at this link.

Texas Republican who wrote anti-drag bill filmed 'skipping, running and dancing' to 'Sexy Lady' in drag

The Texas Republican state lawmaker, a former pastor, who authored an anti-drag bill appeared in a video, in drag, while skipping and running to the song "Sexy Lady."

NBC News reports the editor of Living Blue in Texas, the "premier outlet for Democratic, Liberal, and Progressive news and opinion," posted video of GOP state Rep. Nate Schatzline that shows him with three other people in costumes or drag, "skipping, running and dancing in a park while donning a black sequined dress and a red eye mask."

"At the end of the roughly 90-second video — which plays over the song 'Sexy Lady' by Javi Mula — the four participants are named, including Schatzline, whose character is called 'The Virgin,'" NBC says.

READ MORE: Daily Wire Host Says He Wasn't Calling for 'Genocide' of Trans People – Claims They're Not 'Real'

The editor, identified only as "Michelle," a "Native Texan, Mom, Writer, Editor, Liberal," says on Twitter: "Nate Schatzline has made his entire personality attacking the LGBTQ community, trans especially children, and vowed to ban drag shows in Texas."

"Here is Nate… in drag," she tweeted (video below).

Schatzline's Twitter bio reads, "Christian • Conservative • Husband and Father • State Rep for TX HD 93 • I'm ready to fight for your family and your liberties!"

He responded to the video not with a denial but trying to claim he was not in drag, while appearing to suggest all drag is "sexually explicit."

"Y'all really going crazy over me wearing a dress as a joke back in school for a theatre project? Yah, that's not a sexually explicit drag show… lol y'all will twist ANYTHING."

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene and Mike Lee Spread Anti-Ukraine Disinformation With Deceptively-Edited Viral Video

"Michelle," he adds, "please find something better to do than look up old videos from when people were in school."

But Schatzline's behavior appears to meet the definition of "drag performance" that his own legislation uses: "a performance in which a performer exhibits a gender identity that is different than the performer's gender assigned at birth using clothing, makeup, or other physical markers and sings, lip syncs, dances, or otherwise performs before an audience for entertainment."

Schatzline's bill would ban anyone from entering any venue that "authorizes on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages" and hosts a "drag performance." It would also require any such business to be deemed a "sexually oriented business."

Further encouraging businesses to ban drag performances, the legislation defines "sexually oriented business" as "a sex parlor, nude studio, modeling studio, love parlor, adult bookstore, adult movie theater, adult video arcade, adult movie arcade, adult video store, adult motel, or other commercial enterprise the primary business of which is the offering of a service or the selling, renting, or exhibiting of devices or any other items intended to provide sexual stimulation or sexual gratification to the customer; or … a nightclub, bar, restaurant, or other commercial enterprise that provides for an audience of two or more individuals a drag performance."

Watch the video of Schatzline below or at this link.

Watch: Anti-drag GOP governor bolts from reporters who unearthed photos of him in drag

Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee is at war with drag performers in his state. Lee says he plans to sign a recently passed bill restricting "adult cabaret performances" and banning gender-affirming care for the state's minors.

But when confronted with his own past on Monday, after a 1977 photo emerged on Reddit of Lee wearing a miniskirt cheerleader outfit, complete with a wig and a string of pearls, the governor’s office claimed to The Daily Beast, it's "different."

Lee was caught off-guard when a Tennessee Holler reporter confronted him about the photo, asking if he "remembered dressing in drag in 1977." Lee said it was "ridiculous, […] conflating something like that to sexualized entertainment in front of children, which is a very serious subject," Lee snarled.

Before scrambling into his SUV, the governor added:

I think the concern is what's right there in that building. Children that are potentially exposed to sexualized entertainment, to obscenity. And we need to make sure they're not. I think that's something that should happen in Tennessee and it will because of this bill.

HB 0009 does not specifically ban drag shows; it bars "adult cabaret performances" on public property or in a location where they could be viewed by a minor. The bill cites topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, and male or female impersonators.

The bill passed in the Tennessee House 74-19, and will return to the Senate for a procedural vote, and then to Lee's desk for his signature.

The Tennessee ACLU writes that the anti-transgender bills are not only in violation of the First Amendment to express oneself, but they're "written so broadly and vaguely that they would allow government officials to censor performers based on their own subjective viewpoints of what they deem appropriate on any given day," and describing the bills as a "malicious attempt to remove LGBTQ people from public life. These bans are being fueled by the same paranoia banning books and censoring teachers."

Lee's term has been notoriously anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans.

In 2021, the governor signed HB 3, an anti-transgender bill banning trans girls and women in the state from playing on teams that align with their gender identity.

The bill states: "a student's gender for purposes of participation in a public middle school or high school interscholastic athletic activity or event be determined by the student's sex at the time of the student's birth, as indicated on the student's original birth certificate.”

Lee’' apparent drag photo isn't the first offensive photo to become public.

In 2019, NBC News reported on Lee's time at Auburn University in the Kappa Alpha fraternity, where he and other members dressed in Confederate uniforms for an "Old South" shindig.

Lee was seen in the 1980 yearbook photo wearing a Confederate soldier costume and is seen standing beside a woman in an antebellum dress. One photo (not with Lee) is captioned, "The South shall rise again, right Bill! When the band plays 'Dixie,' a tear comes to our eyes. I'd do anything, Lee, but she comes first."

Lee was forced to apologize when the photo became public.

'Yes I am threatening you': Nebraska Democrat vows to make life 'painful' for Republicans pushing anti-trans bill

Nebraska is one of the reddest states in the Midwest. Republicans dominate its state government, and the last Democrat to carry Nebraska in a presidential race was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Both of Nebraska’s U.S. senators are Republicans: Deb Fischer and Pete Ricketts.

Nonetheless, the Nebraska State Legislature has a Democratic minority. One of Nebraska's Democratic fighters, according to Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce, is State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh, Pierce reports in an article published by Esquire on February 27, is taking an aggressive stand against a "grotesque" GOP-sponsored anti-trans bill.

READ MORE:Arkansas Republican asks trans woman about her genitals during hearing on anti-trans bill

"The legislative year had hardly begun when the new Republican majority (in Nebraska) advanced the modern conservative wish list: a fetal 'heartbeat' bill; a permitless 'concealed carry' gun bill; and, most grotesque of all, Legislative Bill 574, which would forbid health-care workers from providing gender-affirming care to anyone under the age of 19," Pierce explains. "Facing this stampede of Fox News hobby-horses, Sen. Cavanaugh rose during the debate over a property-tax bill and explained to the unicameral that she intended to do everything she could to monkey-wrench the whole process. And she did so with refreshing frankness."

Cavanaugh used very blunt language on the floor of the Nebraska State Legislature, warning that she will do anything she can do make life "painful" for her GOP colleagues if they proceed with the anti-trans Nebraska LB 574.

"If this legislature collectively decides that legislating hate against children is our priority, then I am going to make it painful — painful for everyone," Cavanaugh warned. "Because if you want to inflict pain upon our children, I am going to inflict pain upon this body. I have nothing, nothing but time. And I am going to use all of it. You cannot stop me. I will not be stopped. If LB574 gets an early floor debate and moves forward, it will be very painful for this body. And if people are like, 'Is she threatening us?' Let me be clear: Yes, I am threatening you."

Nebraska is by no means the only red state where far-right GOP lawmakers have been proposing anti-trans bills. They are also being pushed in states ranging from North Dakota to Oklahoma to West Virginia.

READ MORE: Watch: Right-wing host wants to 'ban transgenderism entirely' because of 'occult sexual rituals'

Tim Teeman, reporting for the Daily Beast on January 18, observed, "Florida has HB 211. Georgia has HB 401. North Carolina has HB 514, and Tennessee has SB 657. All of these bills — either introduced or soon to make their way through Republican-controlled state legislatures — seek to prohibit health care for trans minors and criminalize any health-care practitioners who provide it, including the prescribing of puberty blockers which trans youth advocates say can be vital for trans teens' well-being."

Pierce, author of the 2010 book "Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free," praises Cavanaugh as a role model for Democratic lawmakers in deep red states where they are heavily outnumbered.

"You make these people own their actions," Pierce advises. "You draw attention to the true nature of what's being done to constituents in ways that they and their donors find inconvenient. You slow down the process so that everybody gets a really good look at it. "

READ MORE: 'The worst anti-trans bill I have ever seen': GOP-led state houses are ramping up efforts to gut LGBTQ+ rights

Read Esquire's full article at this link.

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