Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, facing accusations of sexual misconduct, held a press conference Thursday that was more a far-right rally than anything else, with one speaker saying Moore will fight the “transgender/LGBT mafia.”
Moore, still contesting allegations of inappropriate (and in some cases, criminal) sexual conduct with teenage girls years ago, appeared in Birmingham, Ala., surrounded by religious right activists, mostly conservative Christians, including Janet Porter of Faith2Action and former U.S. Ambassador Alan Keyes. Some of the most outrageous anti-LGBT rhetoric, however, came from Orthodox Rabbi Noson Shmuel Leiter, head of Torah Jews for Decency.
Leiter said “Democratic and Republican homosexualists” were trying to sabotage Moore’s campaign, adding, “We need Judge Moore to stand against the transgender/LGBT mafia,” reports the Montgomery Advertiser.
He said that Moore – the notoriously anti-LGBT former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court – will fight “those who seek to victimize children and adults through transgender bathroom bills, LGBT indoctrination in schools, and much more,” according to Southern Jewish Life. He denounced more mainstream Republicans for not standing up to “homosexualist gay terrorism of blackmail” against businesses that don’t want to provide goods or services to same-sex weddings.
More anti-LGBT statements came from Christian right blogger Elizabeth Johnston, who bills herself as “The Activist Mommy.” She said Moore’s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, "stands for the destruction of human life through abortion and the destruction of the natural family" through same-sex marriage. There were many other anti-abortion comments as well.
Porter, who organized the event, said the speakers would not take questions about the allegations against Moore. Moore himself spoke by denying the claims, the first of which were published by The Washington Post; now a total of nine women have come forward to accuse him of misconduct. The accusers said Moore sought or had dating relationships with them when they were in their teens and he in his early 30s, and one of them said he touched her in a sexual manner when she was only 14, under the age of consent.
"They're not only untrue, but they have no evidence to support them. … The Washington Post is not evidence," Moore said, according to the Advertiser.
Many prominent Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have said Moore should leave the race. Moore said McConnell is the one who should step aside. Moore left the stage without taking questions.
The Alabama Republican Party, though, is standing behind Moore. The party’s steering committee met Wednesday and “supports Judge Roy Moore as our nominee and trusts the voters as they make the ultimate decision in this crucial race,” according to a statement issued by party chairwoman Terry Lathan to the Advertiser.
“Judge Moore has vehemently denied the allegations made against him,” she continued. “He deserves to be presumed innocent of the accusations unless proven otherwise. He will continue to take his case straight to the people of Alabama.”
Moore and Jones will face off in a special election December 12 to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became U.S. attorney general.
Watch the full event below. Leiter starts speaking shortly after the one-hour mark.