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Editorial: Senate candidate unleashes hate

by BAR Editorial Board

U.S. Senate candidate Don J. Grundmann
U.S. Senate candidate Don J. Grundmann  

Don J. Grundmann, who's running against Dianne Feinstein, Kevin de León, and a bunch of lesser-known candidates for U.S. Senate, unleashed a diatribe of hate directed at the trans community in his official candidate statement. Californians can breathe easier knowing Grundmann has no chance of winning, but by including his rant in the Official Voter Information Guide, which is mailed to every voter in the state, it makes his hate platform legitimate political discourse.

"There is no such thing as 'transgender," Grundmann writes. "It does not exist. What does exist are broken people who pretend to be the opposite sex and even mutilate themselves in the attempt."

That's pretty standard anti-trans rhetoric, and then naturally, as if on cue, he launches into his "what about the children" false arguments that are reliable justifications for inciting intolerance against sexual minorities.

"In our constitutional Republic we are free to be psychotic as long as we do not hurt ourselves or others but we have no right to lie to children and teach them that this mental, emotional, and spiritual pathology/sickness is normal, natural, or healthy in the slightest possible way," he writes.

It goes on from there.

Let's call this garbage what it is: transphobia plain and simple. Kids are discovering their gender identities at younger ages, and, unlike 10 or 20 years ago, there are growing numbers of parents who support their gender nonconforming children. This has led to new policies in some states, like California, where gender-neutral public restrooms are now required by law in businesses, government buildings, and places of public accommodation. California also has a nonbinary gender law because every person deserves full legal recognition and equal treatment. So, while Grundmann is living in the dark ages, the Golden State has let in the daylight with some of the most progressive laws in the country.

We were surprised to find out that the secretary of state's office allows such misinformation and vitriol in the voter guide. Candidates need only to pay $25 per word for their statements, and can write anything they want. And, it only costs a few thousand dollars to qualify for the ballot. So, for about $12,000, Grundmann - who's head of the Constitution Party, which currently is not recognized in California - can spread his hostility across the state, using his campaign to amplify his hatred.

Grundmann's hate speech isn't limited to trans people. Although he did not mention it in his candidate statement, his campaign website has a lengthy "letter" he wrote to black Americans. "Now I am going to be your friend," he writes. "I will explain how and why you are a chump and a slave. Then if you want to be free, and (especially) to have your children free, you can, if you choose to, begin to understand how to do so. If you decide that you don't want freedom you will simply be stupid (adj. - lacking intelligence or common sense)." And, he writes that people like former President Barack Obama, Senator Kamala Harris (D-California), and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) are "House Negros" because they support Planned Parenthood.

We think it's important that voters are aware and alert to candidates whose policies threaten our community. Most Californians are fair-minded and support equal rights for trans people. In the last decade, state lawmakers have passed bills that have helped LGBTQ people, immigrants, and women. There is broad consensus that California is on the right track generally, and that's in part because the state is forward-looking in its attempts to treat people equally.

Equality California, which is backing Feinstein in the Senate race, pointed out the obvious. "California voters are looking for a leader who will fight for full equality and social justice for the LGBTQ community, not someone so obsessed with his own bigotry toward trans folks that he can't write a coherent ballot statement," EQCA spokesman Samuel Garrett-Pate wrote in an email. "There's no place for Mr. Grundmann's hateful, transphobic rhetoric in California politics - or anywhere in our society - and we look forward to the end of his sad, irrelevant campaign."

The end for Grundmann's Senate campaign will come June 5, when he and all but two of the other candidates will go down to defeat. For LGBTQ voters, that will indeed be gratifying.

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