State Watch

Michigan state senator blasts colleague who accused her of grooming in fundraising email

A Democratic Michigan state senator on Tuesday went after one of her Republican colleagues who accused her of grooming children in a fundraising email. 

“Senator Lana Theis accused me by name of grooming and sexualizing children in an attempt to marginalize me for standing up against her marginalizing the LGBTQ community…in a fundraising email, for herself,” Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D) tweeted

“Hate wins when people like me stand by and let it happen,” McMorrow continued. “I won’t.”

McMorrow was one of the three state senators who walked out of a legislative session last week when Theis, a Republican, said that “children are under attack” because there are “forces that desire things for them other than what their parents would have them see and hear and know.”

“Without sharing or repeating closed-minded harmful words from a sitting Senator under the guise of a ‘prayer,’ to every child in Michigan – you are perfect and welcome and loved for being exactly who you are,” McMorrow tweeted in support of the LGBTQ community in response to Theis’s remarks.

After Theis’s comments, state Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D) warned that Michigan might see its own version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, as Theis is the chairwoman of the state Senate Education Committee. The law prohibits instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade. 

“The ‘forces’ are, of course, public school teachers, and the ‘things’ are the LGBTQ community,” Polehanki tweeted of Theis’s remarks.

A Republican candidate for the Michigan state House, Jon Rocha, has already said he would introduce similar legislation if elected, according to Michigan Advance.

“These are the people we are up against,” Theis’s fundraising email said, according to a copy shared with The Hill. “Progressive social media trolls like Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Snowflake) who are outraged they can’t teach can’t groom and sexualize kindergarteners or that 8-year olds are responsible for slavery.”

The Hill reached out to Theis’s office for comment.

The term “groomer” gained traction among far-right commentators and activists around the time the Florida state legislature passed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, with those on the fringes claiming that opponents of the bill and similar measures are enabling children to be primed for abuse by allowing them to learn about gender and sexual identity.

LGBTQ advocates argue that the term feeds into the false and baseless stereotype that people in the LGBTQ community prey on children. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network defines grooming as manipulative behavior used by those who sexually abuse children “to gain access to a potential victim, coerce them to agree to the abuse, and reduce the risk of being caught.”

“This vile and false rhetoric has been used against LGBTQ people for decades; now it’s being used to smear anyone who supports our community and any political opponent,” a GLAAD spokesperson said in a previous statement.

Updated at 5:06 p.m.

Tags Don't Say Gay bill Lana Theis Mallory McMorrow Michigan

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