Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash

Assault on LGBTQ Community is Nothing More Than a Call for Campaign Funding

Mean-spirited Assaults Grow Even More Mean-Spirited

When I look at Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, I don’t see any horns but I do see dollar signs in his eyes, and I see a pandering, amoral politician who has tapped into a cash cow of unlimited resources at the expense of the LGBTQ community.

It’s a different story with Chaya Raichik. When I gaze at her, I see horns and a devil’s tale and evil incarnate. And as for Neil Kumar, he is just so weird that he defies description.

DeSantis and Raichik and to a less extent, Kumar, are fighting to deny the rights of the LGBTQ community. But the three combatants should thank the lord for the LBGTQ people because without them these morality-challenged, backwards looking, charlatan, snake oil sellers, swindlers and mountebanks would have nothing to sell.

It could be that DeSantis has found the lord, found his calling to purge our great land of Democrats in form of Satan and by the way, to prop up his campaign warchest with a piece of a $5 billion hedge fund that is owned by one of the nation’s leading anti-LGBTQ activists. The culture war is bogus; DeSantis and many of his ilk are not out for your conscience, they are out for your money to fuel their political campaigns.

These God-fearing, self-appointed apostles for morality ought to follow Pope Francis’s guidance that parents should “never condemn” gay children. Earlier in the year, the beloved pontiff had this advice to “parents who see different sexual orientations in their children and how to handle this, how to accompany their children, and not hide behind an attitude of condemnation.”

“To them I say: Don’t be afraid … Never condemn a child,” the pope said.

I question the honesty of these Republican morality sheriffs when there is little word from the overall GOP camp as a parade of sexual misconduct allegations expands against Republican candidates. But that is another story.

To understand the culture wars, you have to meet some very wealthy and very powerful people and groups that are full tilt behind DeSantis and others.

Take the right-wing American Principles Project (APP), a group that formed in 2009 and claims to have more than 300,000 members. The organization was one of the first conservative groups in the nation to draw attention to transgender athletes in high school sports. It opposes critical race theory and the promotion of “gender ideology” in schools, as well as in high school sports. The non-profit advocates and lobbies at the state and federal level and its super PAC supports candidates who align with the group’s agenda and assail those who do not.

“We’ve got to save America — but in order to save America — we have to save the family,” says the website for the organization which claims to be “the largest political movement for the family.”

In February 2021, USA TODAY printed an op-ed in which former Ultimate Fighting Championship champion Frank Mir and an executive director of the APP were hostile to the proposed Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. The op-ed claimed that “our athlete daughters shouldn’t have to compete with transgender women” who take female hormones while “biological male athletes have an insurmountable physical advantage over biological female athletes” and “the entirety of women’s athletics would be deeply imperiled.”

The APP pushed for state election reforms in 2021, including laws enhancing voter ID requirements for mail-in voting in states such as Georgia and Texas. Supporters of voters rights say the laws are aimed at disenfranchising voters of color.

In October 2021, YouTube briefly banned APP’s channel for featuring an interview with former trump 2020 campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who blamed Democrats for the Jan. 6, 2020, Capitol riot, which was led by angry trump supporters who believed trump would have won the election were it not for unproven election fraud.

Terry Schilling is the president of the American Principles Project. He has worked for Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., a staunch opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage. Schilling also worked for former Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for purposes of federal law as the union between a man and a woman. Brownback also has said that homosexuality is an immoral violation of Catholic doctrine and natural law. Before that, Schilling ran the campaign of his father, the late, anti-abortionist former Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill.

Sean Fieler is the chairman of the board of the American Principles Project and the Chiaroscuro Foundation. Fielder also is president of Equinox Partners, L.P., and the Kuroto Fund, L.P. and is co-owner of a financial firm, Mason Hill Advisors, which had more than $2 billion under management. Fieler also has been a board member of groups such as the Witherspoon Institute, the Manhattan Institute, the Acton Institute, and the Susan B. Anthony List.

The Chiaroscuro Foundation provides funding for social change projects. Equinox Partners is a hedge fund manager based in Westport, Conn. Kuroto Fund LP also is a hedge fund with around $258.4 million in assets. The current minimum investment in the Kuroto Fund is $5 million.

The Rewire News Group reported that Charoscuro has received the bulk of funding from Fieler. Charoscuro’s goal is to “offer the saving grace of Jesus to all while defending everyone’s unalienable right to exercise the religion of their own choosing.”

Chiaroscuro has given significant grants to EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers, also known as crisis pregnancy centers, which have offered incorrect information to pregnant women seeking a doctor’s guidance and potentially an abortion.

Another recipient has been the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit law firm that has filed many lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act. The fund also was counsel to Hobby Lobby Stores which in 2014 sued and won the right to refuse contraceptives to female employees.

The anti-choice group, Americans United for Life, also received funding. The group opposes abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research and certain contraceptive methods.

One of the leading anti-choice groups, the Susan B. Anthony List, also received funds from Charoscuro. In May 2018, trump addressed the list’s 11th Annual Campaign for Life Gala, becoming the first sitting president to address the group.

“In the almost five decades since the Roe decision, science has come a long way. By 15 weeks, children in the womb have fully formed noses and lips, eyelids and eyebrows. Isn’t it time the law reflects the science?” notes the group’s website.

The Princeton-based, Witherspoon Institute is a conservative think tank that opposes abortion, same sex marriage and embryonic stem cell research. Witherspoon and Fieler have provided most of the funds for a group led by University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus called the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture. The sociology department of the University of Texas, said the Regnerus’s study on LGBTQ issues was “fundamentally flawed on conceptual and methodological grounds and that findings from Dr. Regnerus’ work have been cited inappropriately in efforts to diminish the civil rights and legitimacy of LBGTQ partners and their families.”

The Manhattan Institute for Public Policy Research is a neoconservative think tank founded in 1978 by William Casey, later to become Reagan’s CIA director. Current commentaries include “BLM’s Anti-Police Racket Is Coming Undone” and “When ‘White’ Becomes an Epithet.”

The Acton Institute is a think-tank whose mission is to “promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.” Among its positions, the organization has questioned the science of climate change.

Rewire reported that since 2010, Fieler has personally contributed nearly $18 million to political candidates and causes that align with his anti-choice, anti-LGBT, and pro-theocracy views, “quietly cementing himself as the ATM for the most extreme elements of the fundamentalist Christian and Catholic political machine.” Rewire News Group is a nonprofit media organization that is exclusively dedicated to reporting on reproductive and sexual health, rights, and justice.

Now, on to Chaya Raichik, who describes herself as a real estate salesperson. Raichik’s Twitter site, “Libs of TikTok,” has gained a national following for its virulent, anti-LGBTQ tweets and has more than 897,000 followers. Started in 2020, Raichik minimized the severity of COVID-19, promoted the roundly debunked conspiracy theory that widespread election fraud cost trump the 2020 presidential election and ran posts showing that Raichik was present at the 2021 Capitol attack.

Libs of TikTok was temporarily suspended twice for targeted harassment and “hateful conduct.” The site has largely focused on conservative and anti-LGBT rhetoric, referring to schools as “government run indoctrination camps” for the LGBT community. It has claimed that adults teaching children about LGBT identities is “abusive” and that any teacher who comes out as gay to their students should be “fired on the spot.” It has called members of the LGBT community “literally evil” and claimed that being gender non-conforming or being an ally of the LGBT community is a “mental illness.”

Libs of TikTok has been promoted by Joe Rogan, journalist Glenn Greenwald, and other right wing political commentators like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham. It has been featured in various right wing media and DeSantis’s press secretary Christina Pushaw credited the account for “opening her eyes” on LGBT education.

And finally, scraping below the bottom, challenging for the title of worst of the worst, is Neil Kumar, a GOP candidate for congress in Arkansas, who has called his enemies “sodomite predators,” “LGBT groomers” and “demons. “

His e-mail blast warns the “LBGT Groomers Want Your Kids,” that public schools are “psychological torture camps,” and that pedophilia is the greatest threat humanity has ever faced.

Fortunately, Kumar’s odious and bizarre campaign is not getting any traction among the GOP party. That didn’t phase Kumar who posted, “Unlike those corporate-funded clowns, I’m running for Congress to fight for the people of Arkansas — not Walmart, not China, and not the D.C. special interests who are giving away the birthrights of heritage Americans.”

His message also hasn’t attracted campaign donations. As of March 31, Kumar’s campaign reported about $29,000 cash on hand and $30,000 worth of debt from money Kumar himself loaned his campaign.

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