Last month, Michigan GOP Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock targeted U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg with a homophobic tweet, calling him a “weak little girl” while mocking his move to Michigan. Despite widespread condemnation of her tweet, including from Secretary Buttigieg himself, she is doubling down on her homophobic comments.
I’m a county commissioner and state representative candidate in Pete Buttigieg’s home House District 103. I’m proud to have Pete, Chasten and their family return to Chasten’s hometown in Traverse City.
Maddock, on the other hand, should resign because attacks on LGTBQ+ people should have no home in Michigan. But I’m not holding my breath. Maddock’s ugly homophobia is, despicably, right at home in the Michigan Republican Party.
In the past year alone, Republican State Senator Lana Theis baselessly alleged that State Sen. Mallory McMorrow wanted to “groom and sexualize kindergarteners” because she stood up for LGBTQ+ youth. Media organizations uncovered Republican secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo’s history of blatant homophobic comments, including calling LGBTQ+ supporters “the enemy” and “agents of the devil.” Further, State Senate Republicans blocked a resolution designating June as Pride Month, even though the resolution was identical to one that passed a year earlier. The list of bigotry goes on and on.
The escalating homophobic attacks from Republican leaders have real consequences for our communities. In August, residents in Jamestown, Michigan, voted to defund their public library because it refused to censor certain LGBTQ+ authors.
These attacks also send a clear and dangerous message to our youth. In Traverse City Area Public Schools, for example, students started a discriminatory social media group that included anti-LGBTQ+ messages. When LGBTQ+ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers in the United States, hateful rhetoric — particularly from our political leaders — jeopardizes the safety of LGBTQ+ people and their right to live without fear or discrimination.
Instead of hurling insults and further marginalizing the LGBTQ+ community, let’s focus on the real issues facing Michigan families and build communities where everyone can thrive. Communities where LGBTQ+ rights are protected, women have the right to reproductive freedom without government interference, and children and teachers are safe at school.
We must also create communities where all Michiganders have quality health care and affordable housing and child care, no matter their zip code, race or gender. As someone who grew up in a working class family that struggled to access these basic necessities, I know that these reforms are desperately needed.
For too long, political leaders like Meshawn Maddock have tried to divide us to prevent us from expecting more of our leaders. We won’t stand for it any longer.
Michiganders want leaders who respect everyone and celebrate the diversity that makes us stronger, not leaders who perpetuate bigotry that endangers people’s lives. We must demand better and settle for nothing less than leaders who work for all Michiganders.