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How North Carolina Republicans Rushed Through an Abortion Ban in the Dead of Night

Republicans quickly pushed through the ban after a Democrat switched parties.

Women protest about abortion. One sign reads "You can never ban abortion. You can only ban safe abortion." Another reads,"Defend womens right to choose."
Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The North Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill in the dead of night banning abortion after 12 weeks, rushing through a monster list of restrictions that will destroy access to the procedure in the southern United States.

The bill passed the Republican-controlled chamber close to midnight Wednesday by a vote of 71-46, along party lines. It goes to the Senate on Thursday, where it is also expected to pass since Senator Tricia Cotham switched her party affiliation to Republican a month ago. Her party change now gives the state GOP enough votes to override an expected veto from Democratic Governor Roy Cooper.

The measure technically bans abortion after 12 weeks, but in reality, the window could be much shorter. People would also only be allowed to get a medication abortion until 10 weeks of pregnancy. In order to get a medication abortion, people would be required to go to three separate, in-person appointments. Those appointments would have to be 72 hours apart. That means people would have to sort out time off work, child care, and a host of other logistics for a nearly two-week period.

The bill mandates that the legislature would have to appoint a rules commission to overhaul abortion clinic regulations by October. New rules could potentially force clinics to undergo costly (and unnecessary) changes, temporarily or even permanently shutting them down if they are unable to comply. It would also require health care providers to care for infants “born alive”—which health experts agree rarely occurs and could negatively impact post-birth care—and could restrict access to abortion based on a patient’s reason for wanting one.

“This is a horrendous, monster abortion ban cloaked in medical misinformation, misdirection, and straight-up lies,” said Jillian Riley, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, in a statement. “Politicians are putting pregnant people at risk and stripping us of our rights to build our families and futures.”

Republicans are rushing the bill through the state legislature, with Democrats slamming them for trying to circumvent democracy. Rather than introduce a fresh bill, Republicans gutted an unrelated measure on child safety and then inserted 46 pages of abortion restrictions. They unveiled the text Wednesday night, giving lawmakers less than 11 hours to read it before it went to committee hearing. Instead of going through a traditional (lengthy) committee process, Republicans added the bill as a conference report, allowing them to go right to a vote.

“This bill should be the most deliberated of any of the bills that we do. This should have been something that went through a full committee process in both chambers instead of people scrambling to figure out what it does and does not do,” said House Minority Leader Robert Reives during the hearing earlier Wednesday.

Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue stressed “medical experts should have weighed in on” the bill. “This is a poor showing of democracy,” he charged.

North Carolina currently allows abortion up to 21 weeks, which has made it a haven for the procedure in the southern U.S. If this bill becomes law, then it will have a devastating effect on reproductive rights in the South on its own.

Just a few weeks ago, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a hugely unpopular six-week abortion ban into law. Florida was another abortion haven. Taken in conjunction, these two abortion restrictions will destroy abortion access across the entire South.

Florida Republicans Pass New Bills Guaranteed to Destroy Academic Freedom

The legislation takes “Don’t Say Gay” to the next level.

Ron DeSantis
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

In Florida, soon eighth graders won’t be allowed to say gay, and teachers won’t be allowed to teach their own classes without Ron DeSantis’s approval.

On Wednesday, the state Senate voted to expand Desantis’s hallmark “Don’t Say Gay” bill and ban classroom material on gender identity and sexual orientation through the eighth grade. The legislation, House Bill 1069, also strengthens the ability for people to file complaints to ban books, expanding on a status quo that has already led to Florida districts banning books like the entire Court of Thorns and Roses book series, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home.

The bill also holds “that it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond” to one’s sex at birth. Consequently, staff and students are not required to refer to someone using that person’s preferred pronoun, while school staff themselves are banned from providing their preferred pronouns to students if they differ from their “immutable” sex at birth.

Meanwhile, the state House gave final approval to Senate Bill 266, which will require the state Board of Education and state university system’s Board of Governors to create faculty committees that review general education courses. The committees are empowered to consider the “removal, alignment, realignment, or addition” of courses based on standards laid out in the bill.

“General education core courses may not distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics … or is based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities,” the bill reads.

Slavery, for instance, was foundational to the institutions of the United States; some might make the bold claim that that system of power was based in “systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege.” And if you are to make such a claim, well, you better hope you’re not teaching a university class in Florida.

The bill more broadly prevents colleges and universities from dedicating any financial resources toward diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The bill also opens up allowing Florida institutions and organizations to discriminate on the basis of gender, which was previously banned.

It also removes language related to Florida State University’s Institute for Governance and Civics. It scrubs language describing the institute’s mission to “provide the southeastern region of the United States with a world class, bipartisan, nationally renowned institute of politics.” It eliminates objectives of the institute, such as motivating students to become “aware of the significance of government and civic engagement at all levels and politics in general,” providing “students with an opportunity to be politically active and civically engaged,” and empowering students to “interact with experts from government, politics, policy, and journalism on a frequent basis.”

In other words, the bill explicitly calls to avoid encouraging young people to be civically engaged or to interact with experts and reporters who may have some news for them about the kind of state they are living in.

Both bills now head to Desantis’s desk, where he will complete his legislative session that has amounted to attacking and antagonizing millions of LGBTQ people, students, teachers, women, immigrants, people fearful of gun violence, Disney lovers, and fans of Dwyane Wade. If this all is what’s meant to be the runway toward his presidential launch, DeSantis might be taking the challenge of getting “tired of winning” too seriously.

Raphael Warnock Warns It’s Only a “Matter of Time” Before a Mass Shooting Affects You

The Georgia senator revealed that his own children were on lockdown amid the Atlanta shooting.

Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Senator Raphael Warnock on Wednesday decried the apparent complacency of the U.S. government when responding to mass shootings, warning it was “only a matter of time” before such an attack affects them personally.

There have been 190 mass shootings in the United States since the start of 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive. For comparison, there have been only 123 days in the year.

“We behave as if this is normal. It is not normal. It is not right for us to live in a nation where nobody’s safe no matter where they are,” Warnock said on the Senate floor. “I think there’s an unspoken assumption … that ‘this can’t happen to me.’”

“I shudder to say it, but the truth is, in a real sense, it’s only a matter of time that this kind of tragedy comes knocking on your door.”

Warnock also revealed that this tragedy nearly landed on his doorstep. His children’s schools in Atlanta were put on lockdown during the attack on a hospital Wednesday. He said he was praying that they were safe, but he was quick to add that prayer alone is not enough.

“As a pastor, I’m praying for those who are affected by this tragedy, but I hasten to say that thoughts and prayers are not enough,” he said. “In fact, it is a contradiction to say that you are thinking and praying and then do nothing. It is to make a mockery of prayer. It is to trivialize faith.”

Vivek Ramaswamy Paid Wikipedia Editors to Erase His Soros Fellowship and Covid Work

He announced his 2024 bid after making sure his Wikipedia page was edited.

Vivek Ramaswamy
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Vivek Ramaswamy is, like much of the Republican Party, so pathetically desperate.

The 2024 candidate, who joins other elite-educated Republicans in cosplaying as a truth-telling populist while offering no actual solutions to improve people’s material conditions, has reportedly used some of his millions of dollars to pay a Wikipedia editor to scrub his past.

Mediaite reports that Ramaswamy seems to have paid Wikipedia editor “Jhofferman,” to remove information from his page that he presumably thought would damage his candidacy in the Republican primary. A few days later, he announced his 2024 bid.

The editor scrubbed off information related to Ramaswamy receiving the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans in 2011, during his time as a Yale law student. Paul Soros is the older brother of billionaire democratic donor George Soros, who has been the subject of perennial antisemitic conspiracy theories peddled by the right. (The fellowship Ramaswamy received is dedicated to helping immigrants and children of immigrants pursue graduate school.)

Prominent right-wing figures like Jack Posobiec have directed attention toward Ramaswamy’s past fellowship, presumably in line with the aforementioned use of Soros as a catch-all for anything “suspicious.”

Also removed from Ramaswamy’s page was his work serving on Ohio’s Covid-19 Response Team. The editor claimed that Ramaswamy had explicitly asked to remove the mention of his work on the Covid team, while the editor himself deemed the fellowship to be “extraneous material.”

After some back-and-forth with other Wikipedia contributors, information noting Ramaswamy’s Soros fellowship was later added back to the page.

Ramaswamy had announced his bid for president less than two weeks after he seemingly commissioned an editor to modify his Wikipedia page.

To this day, Ramaswamy’s Wikipedia page begins with a disclaimer that the “article has multiple issues” and the “neutrality of this article is disputed.”

“This article contains paid contributions. It may require cleanup to comply with Wikipedia’s content policies, particularly neutral point of view,” Wikipedia warns.

The episode is just another in a long series of Republicans spinelessly refusing to stand by their past when facing Donald Trump, or to offer even a nugget of an argument as to why, hey, maybe it’s OK to care about problems like Covid.

Most remarkable is that any of the Republicans think their hungry embrace of conservatism’s furthest-right instincts will result in anything other than failure. Materially, their policies aren’t helping people. And politically, they’re all losing to Trump, who then proceeds to inspire losses for Republicans across the country.

But nary a Republican can imagine staking any claim or engaging in any imagined “battleground of ideas” they purport to glorify; instead, they’ll go to such lengths as coughing up cash to a random user online to clean up their Wikipedia pages, resulting in outcomes so clumsy that you begin to wonder how any of these people got as far as they did.

Atlanta Is the 190th Mass Shooting of 2023

America is on a record pace for shootings.

Megan Varner/Getty Images
Police officers work the scene of a shooting near a medical facility on May 3 in Atlanta.

There have already been a record number of mass shootings in 2023, and the number is still climbing.

With the shooting in Atlanta on Wednesday, in which at least one person was killed and at least another four injured, there have been 190 mass shootings this year alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The organization defines a mass shooting as an attack in which at least four people are shot, either injured or killed, not including the shooter.

For comparison, there have been 123 days in the year.

The AP reported Tuesday that the United States is on track to have more mass shootings in 2023 than any other year since the outlet began monitoring this data. The AP and USA Today have kept a database of mass killings since 2006. Although that database defines a mass shooting as an attack with four or more fatalities, this year still has the highest number of such attacks.

There have been 97 deaths in mass killings in 2023, according to that database, an average of about five people per week. The previous record was 93 people killed by the end of April 2019.

A Q&A With the Iowa Teen Who Yelled “Trans Rights Are Human Rights” at the Governor

Clementine Springsteen went viral for calling out Kim Reynolds’s anti-trans record. But she has a lot more to say.

Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

On Sunday, Iowa high school senior Clementine Springsteen got up onstage during an academic honors ceremony, posed for a photo with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, and then bellowed to the audience, “Trans rights are human rights!” In March, the Republican governor signed bills banning gender-affirming care for people under the age of 18 and restricting what bathrooms transgender students can use.

Springsteen is in fact trans herself. And her journey into her new identity—and new name—exhibits both the stakes of the vicious attacks against trans people, and yet too the beautiful compassion and humanity to be embraced if we only allow ourselves to look around.

Prem Thakker: Many people are wondering about your lovely name: Clementine Springsteen.

Clementine Springsteen: Yeah, so, Clementine, I actually picked out myself. I named myself after the character Clementine Kruczynski from the 2004 Jim Carrey movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. To give you a little backstory, when I was in fifth grade, I was actually indoctrinated into a very different way of thinking than I have currently. I was like 10 years old and the first time I heard the word “Muslim,” I asked my teachers like, “Hey, what are Muslims?” She was a trusted adult, and she told me that they were people who are coming to the country to kill Americans and Obama was letting them in.

P.T.: Wow.

C.S.: And I was, you know, I was 10 years old. I never heard of them before. So I kind of just accepted that without question. And that led me down a bad path of thinking. I kind of adopted more beliefs along those lines, and throughout all of middle school, that was kind of what I believed.

And then I started kind of, you know, having the mental development to be able to break those beliefs down and question them. And that’s how I grew into who I am today and so with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind—it’s my favorite movie ever—the whole idea is that Clementine got her memories of Joel erased after their breakup. And then he was distraught about this, went to get his memories of her erased but then while this process is going on, he realizes he doesn’t want to forget any of it, even the bad stuff.

And that’s my philosophy with giving myself that name: is that I’m not proud of my past, I’m not proud of the beliefs that I used to hold, but I don’t want to forget that I’ve once held them. Or forget that I’ve grown from them.

P.T.: That’s really beautiful. If you don’t mind me asking, what was your given name before you changed it?

C.S.: It was Reese, like the candy.

P.T.: Tell me about what led up to that moment on stage.

C.S.: Yes, so I realized in about seventh grade that I am trans. But at that point, I was so afraid of that and you know, I was deep in my horrible beliefs at that point. And so I denied it. I denied it for years and then about March of last year, I kind of accepted it. I realized that I can’t keep denying this part of myself, that I need to live as my authentic self.

I’ve seen how specifically Miss Reynolds’s bills that she’s signed into law, that she’s put into place have affected other people in my community.

Seeing how many more anti-trans laws passed each year, I believe just this year alone, there are over 400 that have been introduced. And we’re only, you know, at the start of May—that’s four months with over 100 bills each month that have been introduced and that’s… It’s disheartening and we have a transgender group at my school that meets every month. And we all just share in the feeling of fear. We’re scared for our futures. We’re scared of being able to live as our true selves. And I’m tired of this. I’m tired of my community being broke down again and again, when we’re just trying to live and be happy.

P.T.: You changed your name when exactly?

C.S.: So I officially started using Clementine over my given name in March of last year. I was in speech class actually. And for my final speech, I spoke about transgender acceptance and came out to my teacher and my class.

P.T.: What was the experience of coming out like?

C.S.: So I was terrified, obviously. But my teacher has always been really supportive. She’s always been really supportive, and there for me. As far as the class goes, there were a few there who I was really terrified of how they’d react. But I think within my speech, I’m hopeful that I managed to change their minds about the issue. I didn’t have any issues with them after that point. So I’m hopeful that I was successful in changing their mind.

P.T.: During the ceremony, there were other students throughout the state that were wearing shirts with statements like, “Public Money For Public Schools” and “I Read Banned Books.” Was there anything else you saw during the ceremony from fellow students that interested you or stood out?

C.S.: Yeah, there was one girl who, I don’t know if it was on purpose, but her whole dress was actually the trans flag colors. I don’t know many people picked up on that. But I saw that, and I was really excited for that.

There was one student from the ceremony who actually reached out to me and said that he had on a “Trans Rights Are Human Rights” shirt, which I didn’t notice at the time. And then there was one person who had pins on like I did. I couldn’t see the pins on screen but my mom told me that they were the color scheme of the pride flag and that sort of thing.

So I know it was a lot more than just the three of us that went viral.

P.T.: Have you been thinking about gender-affirming care for yourself? Especially amid the ban, or even before it?

C.S.: I was thinking about it beforehand. The issue for my family is money, mainly. We just, I don’t come from a well-off family. And we just, I have, you know, I have four siblings. And even though my stepdad makes relatively good money, it’s hard to support four kids just in general. So we don’t have a lot of funds for that kind of thing. So right now, we’re looking to set me up with a psychologist to get me actually diagnosed gender dysphoria and get that history of counseling established so that I can start transitioning.

P.T.: What has it been like having these feelings but not having a way to sort of physically or materially act on them?

C.S.: It’s been difficult, very, very difficult. I, you know, I’ve always kind of preferred more feminine things and it’s like at the ceremony, despite me being vocal about, you know, “trans rights are human rights,” and being trans, I still wore a suit as opposed to a dress because I knew that that was the only way I was going to be taken seriously.

P.T.: What do you want to say to people?

C.S.: I want to say that trans people are here. We’ve been here for a lot longer in human history than people believe. It’s not a new thing by any measures. It’s just new within the culture in America. We’re here, and it doesn’t matter what laws you pass or you know, what hatred you send our way, we’re still going to be here, we’re still going to exist. You can’t, you’re not going to be able to just extinguish an entire group of people. Because even if you do, more are going to be born. So we’re going to persist as a community no matter what you throw our way.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Texas Republicans Pass Bill to Rig Elections in Their Favor

This is how local democracy begins to crumble.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Texas Republican senators have passed a bill that would give the (also Republican) governor’s office the power to overturn elections in one county, which has consistently voted Democratic in recent years.

The bill, which easily passed the Republican-controlled Senate on Tuesday, is a direct response to a snafu in Harris County midterm elections. About 20 polling stations ran out of ballot paper on Election Day, which Republicans argued swung results away from them. But an investigation by the Houston Chronicle found that while there were issues and technical problems, no voters were unable to vote. There was also no evidence that the issues changed any race outcomes.

Still, Republican lawmakers are targeting the county. Tuesday’s measure now heads to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where it is also likely to pass, and would then head to Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s desk. The bill would give Abbott’s appointed secretary of state the power to order a new election in Harris County should at least two percent of its polling stations run out of ballot paper for more than an hour. Harris County has 126 voting locations, so it would only need to run out of paper at three stations for the secretary to order a brand new election.

Senate Republicans said the bill was about ensuring voting logistics, not overturning an election, but Democratic Harris County Senator Borris Miles said the measure was based on a conspiracy theory. He also pointed out that the bill only affects Harris County. The bill’s sponsor said he was open to expanding the measure to encompass other counties, but there appeared to be no such amendment by the time of the vote.

Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, has consistently voted Democratic since the 2016 election. Since then, Democrats have won most of the county commission seats and nearly all of the judicial ones. President Joe Biden and gubernatorial hopeful Beto O’Rourke also prevailed there by well over 50 percent.

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee also said the bill was “not about making elections better.”

“They are about targeting the largest county in the state, which is led by people of color. Laws that attack only one county are not only bad public policy, but also violate the Texas Constitution,” he said.

Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia put things a little more bluntly: “They’d rather be able to rig results than try to win fair and square,” he said.

Are We Supposed to Believe This Is the Text That Got Tucker Carlson Fired?

A new report says it knows exactly why the Fox host was let go, and it’s a little hard to believe.

Tucker Carlson
Janos Kummer/Getty Images

It seems we may finally have the text message that got Tucker Carlson fired and it’s … kind of a letdown.

The former Fox News host was abruptly let go last week, with no explanation given as to why. There has been plenty of speculation, including that Carlson’s private messages—many originally redacted in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit filings—had shown a side of him that even Fox executives couldn’t stomach. Now The New York Times reports that it has the exact text that got Carlson fired.

In a message to one of his producers, sent just hours after the January 6 insurrection, Carlson said he recently saw a video of three white Trump supporters attacking an “antifa kid.”

“Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It’s not how white men fight. Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob … hoping they’d hit him harder, kill him,” Carlson said. “Then somewhere deep in my brain, an alarm went off: this isn’t good for me. I’m becoming something I don’t want to be.”

“The Antifa creep is a human being,” Carlson continued. “I shouldn’t gloat over his suffering. I should be bothered by it. I should remember that somewhere somebody probably loves this kid, and would be crushed if he was killed. If I don’t care about those things, if I reduce people to their politics, how am I better than he is?”

The Times reported that this text “set off a panic at the highest levels of Fox” that ultimately contributed to Carlson’s downfall.

But the thing about the latest message is that Carlson isn’t saying anything that’s worse than what he said every night on his show—until the end. The only way it seems possible that this message doomed him is that he ends the note by expressing concern over his own extremist views.

If what the Times is reporting is true, then as Media Matters writer Ari Drennen pointed out, it may not have actually been Carlson’s vile views that got him canned.

It was that he expressed concern about the impact of that hatred on his own brain,” she said.

Take this apparent change of heart with a grain of salt: In Carlson’s first appearance post-firing, he doesn’t seem to have changed all that much. It also was previously reported that he was fired due to misogynistic comments. But given Fox’s long history with sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s unlikely that would have swayed executives. And again, none of this is too different from what he’s said on air.

What’s more likely is that had all of Carlson’s comments come to light earlier, it would have dealt a huge blow to Fox as it tries to fend off multiple lawsuits. It’s harder to argue that you don’t spout hateful falsehoods or create a toxic work environment for women when your star anchor’s own words show otherwise.

Kevin McCarthy Made a Secret Deal With Tucker Carlson to Become House Speaker

Former Fox producer Abby Grossberg says McCarthy called up the ex-Fox host to discuss his terms.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

“They believed that he could broker who was House speaker. He wanted to do that live on air.”

This is what Abby Grossberg, the former Fox producer currently suing Tucker Carlson for discrimination, said about the then–Fox host’s apparent plans to work with Republican leader Kevin McCarthy in his bid to secure the speaker’s gavel. Grossberg’s comments came during an interview with Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night.

“[Tucker’s] plan was to have Kevin McCarthy come on the show,” Grossberg began. “Tucker a few days earlier had sort of set some terms for McCarthy, which included this Church kind of committee.”

Grossberg was likely referring to demands Carlson had made on January 3, including putting Representative Thomas Massie in charge of a “new Frank Church Committee” to investigate the FBI and other intelligence agencies.

“So, fast-forward to January 5, they start asking me to book McCarthy on the show that night,” Grossberg continued. “That afternoon, Justin [Wells, former Tucker Carlson producer] came in, and he said, here’s the plan: ‘Tucker’s gonna first have Kevin on, hear him beg and grovel. Then we’ll bring in Matt Gaetz, and Matt Gaetz will then kind of set his terms. Then Tucker will set his terms that McCarthy has to agree to … and we’re going to make this whole thing happen on air and save the Republican Party.’”

And the timeline, from the initial demands made by Carlson on January 3 to what happened next with regard to this grand plan to “save the Republican Party,” indeed seems to check out.

“Fortunately, for McCarthy’s sake, he said no,” Grossberg said. “But he did call Tucker the next day from his office with Representative Thomas Massie and had agreed to some of Tucker’s terms, according to a text that Tucker had sent me, and he said that was a win.”

What affirms this timeline? Carlson’s own show. On January 6, the two-year anniversary of the attack on the Capitol, Carlson celebrated McCarthy’s announcement to create a new Frank Church Committee—headed by, yes, Representative Thomas Massie.

“Looks like he’s going to be speaker, and his plan, we have just learned, is to appoint really one of the most honest and dogged members of Congress—we’ll just say it—Thomas Massie of Kentucky, to head that committee,” Carlson said on air.

“MCCARTHY AGREES TO PUT MASSIE ON NEW FRANK CHURCH COMMITTEE,” the Fox chyron blared, hinting at the fact that this was not some surprise plan that Carlson “just learned.”

“We were working to make sure that this Church Committee—a suggestion that you’ve had, and thank you for suggesting that I should be on it, I don’t know if you’re clairvoyant or just made the future happen, but it’s happening,” Massie said to Carlson with a grin and eyebrow raise.

Carlson flashed a momentary tight-lipped smile.

Florida Lawmaker Admits Republicans “Hate Homosexuals” on House Floor

At least one jaw dropped as the state representative tried to make his point.

Florida state Capitol
Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images
Florida state Capitol

A Florida Republican representative accidentally admitted that his party hates LGBTQ people, while expressing support for a bill that would take away LGBTQ rights.

Jeff Holcomb spoke on the House floor Monday in favor of a resolution that states “‘woke’ social engineering and experimentation practices … are eroding military effectiveness.” The resolution would ban policies in the military such as diversity recruitment, unconscious bias training, and the use of gender-neutral language—effectively questioning the presence of LGBTQ people in the military.

“I just can’t let our military be labeled as racist and discrimination without a response. ISIS, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda—those are the folks who discriminate,” Holcomb said. “Our terrorist enemies hate homosexuals more than we do.”

As he says the quiet part out loud, Democratic Representative Kelly Skidmore’s jaw drops in shock. She is seated behind him and clearly visible in the video frame. Next to her, someone whose face is just out of frame raises their hand to their face, also blown away by Holcomb’s words.

Courtesy of The Florida Channel

Republican-led states across the country have begun blatantly targeting LGBTQ people’s rights, and Florida seems to be leading the charge. The state legislature passed a bill in mid-April that is so extreme it could ban all Pride parades and festivals in the state. The bill’s sponsor said he would support the measure even if it meant “erasing a community.” Yet another bill would allow the state to remove trans kids from their families. Separately, another Republican representative compared transgender people to “mutants” and “demons.”