In theory, I am Ron DeSantis’ perfect voter. I am a lifelong conservative, I vehemently oppose any and all COVID restrictions, and I am passionately anti-Trump. What could be a more ideal voter for a candidate like DeSantis?
There’s one problem for DeSantis, though: I am a gay woman. And I can’t stand behind his attacks against the LGBTQ+ community.
I was undeniably on Team DeSantis before his campaign shared what could be considered the most anti-LGBTQ+ ad in recent history, boasting about all the measures he’s supported cracking down on the LGBTQ+ community. Not only did DeSantis show that he is as anti-LGBTQ+ as the mainstream media has alleged, he made a mockery of any GOP candidate that shows an interest in LGBTQ+ rights, setting the whole party back decades.
Despite my conservative credentials, you couldn’t pay me to vote for the Florida governor now. I am a lesbian and DeSantis has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t want any LGBTQ+ conservatives on his team because of their identity.
When DeSantis was toying with the idea of running for president, he sounded like the perfect candidate: He was Trump without the Trumpiness. Little did I know DeSantis was farther to the right on issues that meant the most to me and the more than 70 percent of Americans who support gay rights.
He has made it clear in the past few weeks that he’s more interested in appeasing Twitter trolls who abhor any American who identifies as LGBTQ+. To DeSantis, if you are gay, you are not allowed to be a part of the conservative movement.
A few years ago, I wouldn’t have believed this, but DeSantis' recent anti-LGBTQ+ ad has proved that he is to the right of Trump when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues. If Trump was someone who doesn’t support the movement, DeSantis is an all-out hater.
My gayness has nothing to do with the fact that Florida is a booming state in an otherwise lackluster economy. That being said, DeSantis has made it abundantly clear that he does not support gay Americans regardless of whether they support his conservative agenda.
When I first encountered DeSantis during his bold stance against COVID mandates earlier this year, I was generally pleased with the Florida governor. He seemed just like what conservatives have been missing.
But when the legislative session brought issues concerning LGBTQ+ rights to the forefront, my excitement quickly turned to disappointment. It became evident that DeSantis was not the champion of individual freedoms and rights that I had hoped for.
His anti-gay rhetoric and actions are not only deeply hurtful to LGBTQ+ Americans like myself but also tarnish the image of the conservative movement. As a lifelong conservative, I believe in the principles of limited government, personal responsibility, and individual liberties. Yet, DeSantis’ approach to LGBTQ+ issues goes against these very principles.
By excluding LGBTQ+ conservatives and attacking their rights, DeSantis alienates a significant portion of his potential base, effectively driving away voters who share many of his other conservative beliefs. It is disheartening to witness a candidate who could have been a uniting force within the party instead contributing to further divisiveness.
DeSantis’ stance on LGBTQ+ issues not only contradicts conservative values but also reflects a severe disconnect from the majority of Americans who support gay rights. According to polls, over 70 percent of Americans support gay marriage, and this number continues to rise. By disregarding such a significant portion of the population, DeSantis reveals a concerning lack of understanding of the evolving societal norms and values.
As a gay woman, my sexual orientation is just one aspect of my identity, and it should not define my political beliefs or my place within the conservative movement. Unfortunately, DeSantis seems to believe that one’s sexual orientation determines their worthiness to be part of the conservative cause. This divisive mentality does not bode well for the future of the Republican party or its chances of success in broader elections.
The Republican party should strive to be a big-tent party, embracing diverse perspectives and voices. Alienating LGBTQ+ individuals only weakens the party’s appeal and restricts its ability to attract new supporters. It is vital for the party to evolve and adapt to the changing attitudes of the American people, rather than clinging to outdated and discriminatory views.
DeSantis must recognize that his anti-gay rhetoric is not only harmful to LGBTQ+ Americans but also detrimental to the very principles he claims to uphold. If he truly aims to lead the conservative movement and bring about positive change for all Americans, he must abandon divisive tactics and focus on policies that promote unity and inclusivity.
So far, he is only losing everyday Americans, including many conservatives like myself, through his disgusting anti-gay rhetoric. His attacks against the LGBTQ+ community and exclusion of LGBTQ+ conservatives are not only morally wrong but politically misguided. The Republican party must distance itself from such harmful behavior and strive to be a party that welcomes all Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation. Only then can it hope to represent the true values of conservatism and garner the support needed to succeed in future elections.