From left: Sens. Ted Cruz, Marsha Blackburn, and Marco Rubio
While it’s unknown if their votes were motivated by antigay animus, some of the U.S. Senate’s leading homophobes were among the 13 who voted against confirming Pete Buttigieg as secretary of Transportation.
Buttigieg, who is gay, Tuesday became the first out member of the LGBTQ+ community to be confirmed as a Cabinet member. The vote was 86-13, with one senator, Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, not voting.
Those who voted against confirmation were all Republicans: Sens. Richard Shelby and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama; Tom Cotton of Arkansas; Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida; Roger Marshall of Kansas; Bill Cassidy of Louisiana; Josh Hawley of Missouri; James Lankford of Oklahoma; Tim Scott of South Carolina; Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty of Tennessee; and Ted Cruz of Texas.
Most of them have low scores, primarily zeroes, on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard, which rates members of Congress on their support for LGBTQ+ rights (or lack thereof). Some were rated on their records in the U.S. House before joining the Senate, such as Marshall and Blackburn, and some have not been in elected office long enough to be rated (Tuberville and Hagerty).
Cruz is the most notorious of the bunch. The senator, who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, is a longtime opponent of marriage equality and supporter of restrictions on transgender people’s use of public restrooms. In 2015, he joined his father, extremist anti-LGBTQ+ preacher Rafael Cruz, at an event held by the equally extremist minister Kevin Swanson, who has said the Bible supports the death penalty for homosexuality. Ted Cruz’s staff later said it was a mistake for him to attend.
Hawley was highly critical of the Supreme Court’s pro-equality decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, calling it “the end of the conservative legal movement.” Hawley is so far the only senator to have voted against all five of the Cabinet nominees who’ve come up for confirmation. He, Cruz, Marshall, Tuberville, and Rick Scott were also among the senators who objected to certifying the electoral vote in favor of Joe Biden over Donald Trump, even after a mob of Trump supporters invaded and vandalized the U.S. Capitol, an event that led directly to five deaths.
Cotton infamously said in 2015 that LGBTQ+ Americans who worry that so-called religious freedom laws would enable discrimination should have “a sense of perspective” because “in Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay.” Rubio is a longtime opponent of marriage equality, and Blackburn cochaired the committee that drafted the 2012 Republican platform, considered the most antigay in history.
Only a few of the senators who voted against Buttigieg’s confirmation have made public statements about it so far. Marshall and Rick Scott both tweeted on the matter.