In a highly competitive race for an open congressional seat in Texas, the National Republican Congressional Campaign’s anti-trans attacks on lesbian candidate Gina Ortiz Jones continue, now with a TV ad citing a 2018 quote from her in the Washington Blade in support of gender reassignment surgery for transgender service members.
The new ad that went online Tuesday criticizes Jones — a first-generation Filipino-American who served as an intelligence officer in the Air Force during the Iraq war — for supporting closure of military bases in Texas to save costs, raising the question of where she would rather have that money spent.
“For what?” a male narrator asks in a voiceover. “Jones wants the Defense Department to pay for transgender reassignment surgeries, reassigning the military a new mission, helping Jones use our money to radicalize our country.”
The ad ends with a lock and chain clicking into place superimposed over a black-and-white image of Jones and a scrolling image behind her of blood-red tinted money within an outline of the continental United States.
The sources attributed for Jones’ comments are an August 2017 article in the San Antonio Express as well as an October 2018 interview in the Washington Blade. At the time, Jones criticized her then-opponent, incumbent Rep. Will Hurd, for voting for an amendment that would have barred the use of military funds to pay for transition-related care for transgender people, including gender reassignment surgery.
(The amendment ended up being defeated on the House floor, but President Trump later banned transgender military service altogether with an announcement on Twitter.)
Jones at the time criticized Hurd for voting for the anti-trans amendment, citing it as hypocrisy on the basis he claims to support national security “and then takes votes like that that undermine military readiness.”
“As someone that’s served in the military and under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ I know that if one person on that team is not 100 percent, that unit is not 100 percent and the mission is at risk, so this is now an issue of military readiness,” Jones said.
It’s not the first time the NRCC has made an anti-LGBTQ attack on Jones. The NRCC has previously run an ad that says Jones “doesn’t care about Texas” and slams her for wanting to “divert military money for transgender re-assignment surgeries.”
The NRCC also put on a website for potential lines of attack against Democrats a picture of Jones and her partner holding champagne glasses, an attempt to paint her as a Washington political insider. Initially, the post included an explicit reference to Jones having a same-sex partner, but that has since been removed.
Major medical groups, including the American Medical Association, have concluded gender reassignment surgery can be medically needed care for transgender people and have backed transgender military service.
The NRCC didn’t respond to the Blade’s request for comment on why the Republican political action committee thought the attack line in the ad was appropriate.
The race between Jones and her Republican opponent, Tony Gonzales, is incredibly tight in the days leading up to Election Day. An Oct. 7 poll from Public Opinion Strategies found Jones has a 1-point lead in the race, which is well within the margin of error.
Rebecca Marques, Texas state director for the Human Rights Campaign, condemned the ad in a statement as “desperate, cheap, and beneath even them,” citing a poll showing 88 percent of Texas likely voters support transgender people having equal access to medical care.
“Their closing argument in Texas appears to be not just attacking LGBTQ people but our nation’s veterans and military,” Marques said. “This isn’t just ineffective, it’s counter to the 88 percent of Texas voters who believe transgender people should have equal access to medical care as any other Texan. If the NRCC were smart, they would realize that even Texas Republicans are turned off by their disgusting strategy.”