A Michigan lawmaker has slammed a Republican colleague’s ‘groomer’ accusations because of her diehard support for the LGBT+ community.
State senator Mallory McMorrow delivered a passionate speech on the Capitol floor, defending herself from baseless claims by Republican Lana Theis. McMorrow told her fellow legislators that Theis “accused me by name of grooming and sexualising children” in a fundraising email because the Democrat stood up against Theis’ attempts to marginalise the LGBT+ community.
McMorrow, who shared a clip of her fiery speech on Twitter, told those gathered at the state Capitol building that she “didn’t expect to wake up” to the message and “sat on it” for a while as she wondered why Theis would lob such accusations against her. But then she realised that she is the “biggest threat to your hollow, hateful scheme”.
“You can’t claim that you are targeting marginalised kids in the name of ‘parental rights’ if another parent is standing up to say ‘no’,” McMorrow said. “So then what – you dehumanise and marginalise me.”
McMorrow referenced portions of campaign material from Theis, shared publicly on Twitter by Michigan Advance reporter Andrew Roth. In the email, Theis claimed that McMorrow wanted to “groom and sexualise kindergarteners”.
“These are the people we are up against,” Theis’ fundraising email read. “Progressive social media trolls like senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Snowflake) who are outraged they can’t teach can’t groom [sic] and sexualise kindergarteners or that eight-year olds are responsible for slavery.”
PinkNews has contacted Theis’ office for comment.
McMorrow argued that Theis’ email tried to other her by saying “she’s a groomer”, “she supports pedophilia”, “she wants children to believe they were responsible for slavery and to feel bad about themselves because they’re white”.
McMorrow explained in her speech that Theis’ accusations are rooted in a broader conservative campaign to use concepts like critical race theory to attack the LGBT+ community, civil rights activists and allies.
“I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom who knows that the very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism somehow means that children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they are white is absolute nonsense,” McMorrow said.
She continued: “No child alive today is responsible for slavery. No one in this room is responsible for slavery.
“But each and every single one of us bears responsibility for writing the next chapter of history… we are not responsible for the past.
“We also cannot change the past. We can’t pretend that it didn’t happen, or deny people their very right to exist.”
She added that people who are “different” are not the reason why “roads are in bad shape”, “healthcare costs are too high” or “teachers are leaving the profession”.
“We cannot let hateful people tell you otherwise to scapegoat and deflect from the fact that they’re not doing anything to fix the real issues that impact peoples’ lives,” McMorrow said. “I know that hate will only win if people like me stand by and let it happen.”
She continued: “And I want to be very clear right now: Call me whatever you want. I know who I am.
“I know what faith and service mean, and what it calls for in this moment. We will not let hate win.”
Senator McMorrow was among a group of Democrats who walked out while Theis was speaking during a legislative session last week. During the speech, Theis claimed that “children are under attack” because of “forces that desire things for them other than what their parents would have them see and hear and know”, Detroit Free Press reported.
Right-wing figures and conservative Republicans have increasingly labelled the LGBT+ community and advocates as “groomers” following the advancement of anti-LGBT+ bills including Florida’s reviled and hateful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law.
Casey Pick, senior fellow for advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project, told NBC News that the organisation has seen an “uptick in the use of these slurs” and “gross terms like ‘grooming’”, especially in “dark corners of the internet”.
“It’s important to note that we’ve been fighting against these stereotypes for decades, if not longer,” Pick said.
Pick referenced Anita Bryant’s fierce anti-gay crusade in the 1970s and broader fearmongering during the campaign for marriage equality as precedent for the modern rise in ‘groomer’ allegations against the LGBT+ community and allies.
“We’re starting to see politicians and political staff using this term, not in the way that is beneficial to discuss things like the real concerns about sexual abuse, but as a way to demean and silence debate about LGBTQ people and their needs,” Pick added.