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10 Republican 'hate squad' lawmakers targeted by pro-LGBTQ+ Agenda PAC

Agenda PAC list Republican hate squad legislators Valerie Gaydos Buck Newton Fabian Basabe Susan Plasencia
PA HOUSE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS; Re-elect Fabian Basabe for State Representative; CITIZENS FOR BUCK NEWTON; State House Susan Plasencia Campaign

From left: Targeted legislators Valerie Gaydos, Buck Newton, Fabian Basabe, and Susan Plasencia

Agenda PAC is hoping to unseat these "beatable bigots."

Cwnewser

Agenda PAC has announced the launch of a new campaign against 10 incumbent legislators it hasdubbed “The Hate Squad.” These lawmakers, identified by Agenda PAC for their harmful actions against the LGBTQ+ community, represent districts deemed winnable forDemocrats.

The announcement coincides with the beginning ofPride Month, aiming to rally support and highlight the stakes for LGBTQ+ rights in the upcoming election. Under the direction of Interim Executive Director Rachele Fortier, abisexual political strategist andLGBTQ+ activist based inPhiladelphia, Agenda PAC’s new initiative follows its previous success in local and state elections, utilizing traditional and unconventional campaign tactics to succeed against “beatable bigots.”

Brian Sims, a gay former Democratic state representative inPennsylvania and now senior adviser to Agenda PAC, underscored the campaign’s urgency in an interview with The Advocate.

Sims emphasized the need for LGBTQ+ people to engage robustly in the political process to defend and expand their rights.

“Our enemies and our opponents are motivated to participate in politics because of our existence,” Sims said. “The idea that for any queer person, their identity could be anything other than political right now is false. If there are people coming to the polls specifically to rob you and me of our rights, we need to be responding in kind.”

Sims warned those who may feel like the political process can’t be influenced to pay even closer attention to the election.

“Disengagement is the hope, plan, and strategy of the hardcore conservative MAGA right. Not engaging in politics right now is doing exactly what our opponents want of us, and it’s the agenda they are pursuing,” he said.

Agenda PAC launched a powerful video on social media to kick off the campaign, highlighting the dangerous rhetoric and policies that have put LGBTQ+ children at risk. The video “Our Kids” opens with a poignant statement: “Protecting our kids. It’s the rallying call of the right wing, but not every kid, not kids like us. After generations of fighting to exist, we know how to fight. We can be the adults we never had because today, kids are taking up fights bigger than any kid should have to fight, for their right to live openly and love equally against adults with power and platforms.” The video concludes with a powerful message to anti-LGBTQ+ legislators: “If you come for our kids, we are coming for your seats, and we’re starting here.”

"Our Kids" - The Hate Squad Launch (2024)youtu.be

Agenda PAC’s 2024 campaign targets ten incumbents with a history of anti-LGBTQ+ actions. Among them isCalifornia Republican U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, who voted against repealing "don’t ask, don’t tell," in favor of barring LGBTQ+ people from adopting children, and in favor of firing people for being LGBTQ+.Florida Republican state legislators Susan Plasencia and Fabian Basabe are also on the list. Plasencia voted to end gender-affirming care and forcibly detransition trans minors, and Basabe has beenembroiled in controversy after voting in favor of an expansion of Florida’s controversial “don’t say gay” law. He has since defended that vote and has also pushed back against accusations by male staffers of creating a sexually charged work environment. Although a Florida House investigation cleared him of allegations, a civil suit is ongoing.Iowa Republican State Rep. Jon Dunwell sponsored a bill that forcibly outs trans students, while Missouri Republican State Rep.Bill Allen voted to ban trans kids from sports. Oklahoma Republican State Rep. Eric Roberts sponsored a bill targeting LGBTQ+ protesters at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

The list also includes North Carolina Republican lawmakers Tricia Cotham and Buck Newton. Cotham, a state representative, switched her party from Democratic to Republican, giving Republicans a veto-proof majority, and then voted to ban trans girls from girls’ sports. Newton, a state senator, told a crowd in 2016, “We must fight to keep our state straight.” Pennsylvania Republican State Reps. Valerie Gaydos and Joe Emrick round out the list. Gaydos sponsored a ban on trans girls in sports, and Emrick voted to ban transgender girls and women from participating in school sports. One of the bill’s sponsors said, “Allowing biological males to compete in girls and women’s sports destroys fair competition and women’s athletic opportunities.” Additionally, Emrick voted to amend the Pennsylvania state constitution to declare that abortion is not a constitutional right.

Discussing Agenda PAC’s specific tactics, a representative highlighted the dual strategy of high-visibility actions and targeted voter outreach. Last year, Agenda PAC infiltrated the host hotel for Moms for Liberty’s national convention and put door hangers on all the rooms, calling out the hate group.

Last November, Agenda PAC-endorsed candidatessecured victories in key school board races, marking a significant defeat for the conservative Moms for Liberty group. This organization, classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an antigovernment extremist group, has been known for its stance against LGBTQ+ educational materials and advocacy for so-called parental rights. Agenda PAC’s strategic efforts in states such as Pennsylvania and New Mexico successfully countered Moms for Liberty’s influence by supporting more progressive candidates who ultimately won their races.

In 2022, Agenda PAC made headlines with its boldbillboard campaign targeting Calvert in California’s 41st Congressional District. The billboards reminded voters of Calvert’s anti-LGBTQ+ record with the message “Just a reminder. Ken Calvert tried to ban gay marriage.” This campaign was part of Agenda PAC’s broader effort to unseat Calvert, who has a long history of anti-LGBTQ+ actions.

This year, the group expects to do more of the same.

“Those guerrilla tactics, whether it’s Grindr ads or door hangers or the billboards, cost relatively small sums of money, and it’s kind of a trunk strategy where we do some of that for really high visibility,” the Agenda PAC representative explained. “But we bank the bulk of our budget and most of the money that we raise toward really targeted direct voter outreach that other PACs, in general, do to get voters aware of what’s going on and get them to the polls.”

The rep added, “We believe we can make a better world for LGBTQ kids, and it starts by holding those creating the most harm accountable.”

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).