A mailer sent out by a candidate for Congress is being condemned by LGBTQ+ advocates as a bigoted attack based on lies.
The postcard-type flier was recently sent out by the campaign of State Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte), who is running against Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) in the newly drawn 7th Congressional District.
The mailer states that Slotkin “SUPPORTS CHILD STERILIZATION and gender transition without parental consent,” citing a website opposed to Proposal 3, which would establish abortion rights in the Michigan Constitution. However, no such language exists in the proposal and supporters have said it is being purposely misinterpreted.
The card then states that “Slotkin even held a transgender reading time for children ages 4-8,” listing a web address that takes users to Barrett’s campaign page. It references a video produced by the Livingston Diversity Council that featured Slotkin and other community leaders reading from the award-winning book “I Am Jazz,” based on the real-life experiences of Jazz Jennings, a transgender child who starred in the TLC series of the same name.
Amritha Venkataraman is the Michigan State Director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a LGBTQ advocacy group.
She said that Barrett had become “an expert at spreading outright lies” about the LGBTQ+ community and referenced his previous fundraising effort in April in which he claimed, “President Biden is forcing 5-year-olds to learn about gender reassignment surgeries, gender identities, and other radical ideas,” and also included a fundraising text that stated,“CONFIRMED: … your child’s gender reassignment surgery has been booked. If you have any issues with this operation, please view the objectives of Biden’s National Transgender Strategy.”
That type of rhetoric has been part of a nationwide GOP strategy to attack LGBTQ rights and fire up the party’s voting base.
“Under the false pretense of family values, Tom Barrett stigmatizes kids and their parents – parents that are simply trying to make life saving medical decisions in the best interests of their children,” said Venkataraman. “Congresswomen Slotkin supports LGBTQ+ rights and gender affirming care, which is backed by every credible medical organization and always made in consultation with medical and mental health professionals, parents, and guardians. The LGBTQ+ community continues to be a target for failing, extremist politicians who use dangerous and false rhetoric.”
Slotkin herself released a statement on the mailer, saying that Barrett was “ending his campaign the same way it started: drumming up fear and hate and using children as political pawns.”
She continued, “Unfortunately, he isn’t focusing on the areas I hear about most when it comes to our kids, including playing catch-up from COVID, ensuring school safety, and making mental health resources more readily available. He has never voted to approve a single dollar for our schools—voting as an extreme outlier against every bipartisan K-12 bill that has come before him in his eight years in the legislature. As leaders, we should be focused on the issues that impact the widest range of our constituents in need. But Mr. Barrett would rather sow division and fan the flames of the culture wars than support the families in our community.”
When asked to comment, the Barrett campaign sent the following statement;
“I know objectivity isn’t really your thing but as a “journalist” who participated in the trans gender story time, are you really the best person to be “reporting” on this? As usual, trans advocates miss the point which is not to get between the parent-child relationship so everything Venkataraman says is a word salad of nonsense.”
Full disclosure: Jon King, as a board member of the Livingston Diversity Council, was one of the community participants in the aforementioned video, which was done as a trans awareness project. He is the father of a trans son.