Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defended an anti-LGBT+ campaign video he pushed over the past week after receiving widespread criticism, calling it “totally fair game.”
Last week, a pro-DeSantis social media account shared a video that praises Florida’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws and references Trump’s promise to “protect our LGBTQ citizens.” Those comments from Trump were from a speech he made shortly after the Pulse nightclub massacre left 49 people dead. Most of those killed were queer.
The ad, critical of Trump’s acknowledgment of the LGBTQ+ community, was called out as homophobic from all sides of the political spectrum.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg poked fun at the bigoted ridiculousness of it after it was published, and the Log Cabin Republicans responded with shock and outrage.
“I’m going to leave aside the strangeness of trying to prove your manhood by putting up a video that splices images of you in between oiled-up, shirtless bodybuilders,” Buttigieg said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “And just get to the bigger issue that is on my mind whenever I see this stuff in the policy space, which is, again: Who are you trying to help? Who are you trying to make better off? And what public policy problems do you get up in the morning thinking about how to solve?”
The president of Log Cabin Republicans, the conservative political group of LGBTQ+ people, criticized DeSantis for extending his bigotry beyond what the group finds acceptable.
“Ron DeSantis, instead of choosing to target some of the more radical and extreme fringe of the LGBT movement, as we've seen with radical gender theory and as we've been seeing an attack on parental rights, he chose to go after Republicans who are actually doing good things for the party and doing good things for the public,” Charles Moran told NPR.
In an interview with right-wing talk show host Tomi Lahren, DeSantis said Trump had modified his messaging ahead of the 2024 presidential election in light of Trump’s role in mainstreaming conversations around gender.
The Republican governor of Florida doubled down on his bigotry.
DeSantis said, “I think identifying Donald Trump as really being a pioneer in injecting gender ideology into the mainstream – where he was having men compete against women in his beauty pageants – I think that’s totally fair game because he’s now campaigning saying the opposite, that he doesn’t think that you should have men competing in women’s things like athletics.”
NBC News reported that Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung called it “a desperate DeSanctus campaign, with a flailing candidate, in its last throes of relevancy.”
DeSantis and his team continue to stand by the ad.
Christine Pushaw, a spokesperson for DeSantis, criticized former Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell for calling the ad “undeniably homophobic.”
“Opposing the federal recognition of ‘Pride Month’ isn’t ‘homophobic,’” wrote Pushaw on Twitter alongside a screenshot of Grenell’s criticism.
“We wouldn’t support a month to celebrate straight people for sexual orientation, either… It’s unnecessary, divisive, pandering. In a country as vast and diverse as the USA, identity politics is poison,” Pushaw added.
While working as press secretary for DeSantis last year, Pushaw generated and pushed the false smear that LGBTQ+ people are “groomers” who were indoctrinating American kids.