Dana Rohrabacher, the 15-term Republican incumbent washed away by Democratic challenger Harley Rouda when the blue wave got here ashore in Southern California’s 48th Congressional District final week, isn’t your common homophobic extremist.
He’s, actually, an architect of the decades-long battle towards LGBTQ rights and a politician, amongst many others, whose bigotry is partly accountable for the deaths of hundreds of individuals from AIDS.
Rohrabacher was a lieutenant of President Ronald Reagan all through his two phrases as a speechwriter and particular assistant, serving to Reagan court docket the evangelical proper, which Reagan has been credited with bringing into politics. Reagan, bowing to the zealots from whom he helped amass huge energy (energy they nonetheless wield with President Donald Trump), was among the many most anti-gay presidents in historical past, ignoring the AIDS epidemic till far too late.
Rohrabacher was first elected to Congress in 1988, on the finish of the Reagan administration, representing a district in Orange County, a bastion of conservatism within the ’80s and past. He was amongst a trio of California right-wing Republican congressmen ― together with Bob Dornan and William Dannemeyer ― who demonized folks with AIDS in that period, voted towards efforts to stem the epidemic and battle discrimination and pushed laws that was discriminatory towards LGBTQ folks.
Rohrabacher additionally teamed up with the virulently anti-gay Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina in attacking authorities grants to queer artists. Rohrabacher railed towards the Nationwide Endowment for the Arts in 1990 ― at the same time as George H.W. Bush’s White Home tried behind the scenes to get him to tug again ― for supporting artists who created “drawings of gay orgies, bestiality and a Statue of Liberty changed into a transvestite, full with male intercourse organs.”
Over time, Rohrabacher twice backed a federal modification to ban same-sex marriage, voted towards stopping anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment and voted towards laws extending hate crime protection to LGBTQ folks. In 2009 he stated permitting folks with HIV to enter the nation, even on vacationer visas, was “humanitarianism gone wild.” And this 12 months, Rohrabacher, who turned a nationwide embarrassment as a Vladimir Putin apologist within the Trump period, induced a nationwide uproar when he supported permitting owners to show away homosexual consumers.
Now, after 30 years, this bigot has lastly been booted.
And he’s not the one one.
There was a lot dialogue within the aftermath of final week’s midterms in regards to the rainbow wave, a report variety of LGBTQ candidates elected in races throughout the nation ― over 150 finally rely. However on the opposite aspect of the coin, many ardent homophobes and anti-gay candidates had been taken down too.
In Minnesota, Rep. Jason Lewis, a Republican who equated homosexual with rapists, misplaced his Home seat to Democrat Angie Craig ― the primary lesbian mother elected to Congress.
In one other case of poetic justice, overtly bisexual California Democrat Katie Hill defeated Republican Home member Steve Knight, who supported Proposition eight, which banned same-sex marriage in California, and voted towards banning “ex-gay” remedy throughout his time within the California Senate. His father, Pete Knight, spearheaded a precursor to Prop eight ― the anti-gay Knight Initiative, a 2000 poll measure — as a state senator. Even after his personal brother, David Knight, got here out as homosexual, Steve Knight carried on his dad’s hateful custom.
In Georgia’s now-famous sixth Congressional District, short-lived GOP incumbent Karen Handel, who stated final 12 months whereas operating in a particular election towards Democrat Jon Ossoff that she didn’t assist permitting adoption by homosexual and lesbian , was crushed by African-American Democrat and gun reform advocate Lucy McBath.
Texas GOP Rep. Pete Classes, who claimed the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida ― the location of a 2016 gun bloodbath ― wasn’t truly a homosexual membership (and who voted anti-gay each probability he received in his greater than 20 years in Congress, garnering a rating of zero yearly from the Human Rights Marketing campaign) was defeated by African-American civil rights lawyer Colin Allred.
In an enormous upset in Oklahoma, Republican Steve Russell, who in 2016 launched a invoice that might have offered non secular exemptions to President Barack Obama’s government order banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination amongst federal contractors, misplaced to Kendra Horn, the primary Democrat to win the state’s fifth Congressional District in 44 years.
Former CIA analyst Elissa Slotkin took down Republican Rep. Mike Bishop in Michigan. He voted final 12 months to disclaim transgender service members medically crucial transition-related well being care and was an ardent opponent of marriage equality, searching for non secular exemptions.
In actual fact, the listing of GOP Home members against marriage equality who got here crashing down final week goes on and on: Dave Brat and Barbara Comstock in Virginia, Iowa’s Rod Blum, Illinois’ Randy Hultgren, Mike Coffman in Colorado and Keith Rothfus in Pennsylvania.
In races which have but to be known as however the place Democrats appear prone to prevail, GOP marriage equality opponents embody New York’s Claudia Tenney, New Jersey’s Tom MacArthur and Utah’s Mia Love, who even despatched out anti-gay emails throughout the marketing campaign attacking her opponent’s assist of marriage equality.
Within the Senate, GOP marriage equality opponent Dean Heller went down in Nevada towards Jacky Rosen. And in Arizona, Martha McSally, one other equality opponent, misplaced within the battle for the open seat to switch marriage equality opponent Jeff Flake ― to overtly bisexual Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema.
Far-right Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who as soon as in contrast homosexuality to polygamy, was stopped from taking the governor’s seat and persevering with the Kansas GOP’s anti-LGBTQ agenda. Democrat Laura Kelly flipped the state and has already vowed to reinstate protections for homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and transgender authorities staff, which had been rescinded in 2015 by then-Gov. Sam Brownback.
In Wisconsin, anti-LGBTQ Republican Scott Walker misplaced his governorship to Tony Evers, after practically eight years, in a significant win for equality.
Democrat Gretchen Whitmer flipped Michigan in its governor’s race, stopping Republican Legal professional Basic Invoice Schuette ― who rejected the Michigan Civil Rights Fee’s growth of state regulation to guard LGBTQ folks ― from persevering with GOP Gov. Rick Snyder’s hostile agenda. (In one other enhance, overtly lesbian civil rights lawyer Dana Nessel, who fought Snyder to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage ban in a case amongst those who finally prevailed on the U.S. Supreme Court docket within the 2015 Obergefell ruling ― was elected Michigan’s new lawyer basic.)
And within the open governor’s race in Maine, Democrat Janet Mills flipped the state, making certain right-wing extremist Gov. Paul LePage’s horrifically anti-LGBTQ agenda received’t proceed underneath Shawn Moody, who equally opposed marriage equality.
In lots of state legislatures, the blue wave washed away the hate final week. In Texas, the place anti-LGBTQ Republicans in recent times launched greater than a dozen payments dangerous to homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks every session, Democrats flipped 12 Home seats, within the greatest shift since 2010. In an upset, Ron Simmons, who authored an notorious anti-transgender “toilet” invoice ― which died within the Texas Home final session however which conservatives vowed to carry again subsequent 12 months ― was defeated by Michelle Beckley.
There are extra ― and I’m certain there are nonetheless others about whom I haven’t but develop into conscious. Simply a few years in the past, many queer activists and LGBTQ leaders would have grudgingly denied that these enemies of equality, a number of of whom they’ve fought for a decade or extra, might have been defeated.
However the 2018 midterms confirmed that when progressives work collectively and set up with huge drive, the probabilities are infinite.
Michelangelo Signorile is an editor-at-large for HuffPost. Observe him on Twitter at @msignorile.
UPDATE: This text has been up to date to replicate that Democrat Kyrsten Sinema received the Arizona Senate race.