(LifeSiteNews) – Republican governor of Florida and 2024 presidential candidate Ron DeSantis defended his campaign’s promotion of a video linking former president and top GOP primary rival Donald Trump to the LGBT “pride” movement, calling it “totally fair” to note Trump’s conflicting history on the subject.
On June 30, one of the DeSantis campaign organization’s Twitter accounts shared a video created by supportive Twitter user @ProudElephantUS, which contrasted Trump’s past embraces of LGBT flags and merchandise with DeSantis’s conservative stances, such as opposition to letting minors access drag shows.
To wrap up “Pride Month,” let’s hear from the politician who did more than any other Republican to celebrate it…
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) June 30, 2023
The tweet provoked bitter condemnation from various so-called “gay conservative” personalities, including the LGBT group Log Cabin Republicans and “transitioned” former Olympic athlete Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner.
On July 5, DeSantis spoke with OutKick host Tomi Lahren about the situation, standing by the video.
“Yeah look, I think identifying Donald Trump as really being a pioneer in injecting gender ideology into the mainstream, where he was having men compete against women in his beauty pageants, I think that’s totally fair game,” DeSantis said, “because he’s now campaigning, saying the opposite, that he doesn’t think that you should have men competing in women’s things like athletics.”
“We’ve been very clear on it, we believe in protecting the rights of our girls and the rights of women athletes to be able to participate with fairness and with integrity, and ultimately when you talk about some of the gender ideology that’s being unleashed in this country, in the state of Florida, we are fighting back against that,” he continued.
The governor added that he considers transgender ideology an attack on women, truth, and fairness. “I think there’s value in making sure our society is rooted in truth and not in social fads,” he said.
In a statement to NBC News, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung dismissed the line of criticism as a “desperate DeSanctus campaign, with a flailing candidate, in its last throes of relevancy.”
Trump has a mixed history on LGBT issues, starting with his status as a mainstream celebrity and conventional liberal New Yorker before his entry into Republican politics. In 2012, as the owner of the Miss Universe beauty pageant, Trump repeatedly endorsed the inclusion of “transgender women,” i.e. males, in competition with actual women, in the name of what the Trump organization called “modernized” rules at the time, eliciting praise from LGBT pressure group GLAAD.
While running for president in 2016, Trump criticized a North Carolina law banning male students from female restrooms and said anyone should be allowed to “use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.” By the time he was in office, he flipped on the issue, rejecting Obama-era guidelines on the subject and announcing that the Department of Education would no longer indulge bathroom-related “discrimination” complaints.
A supporter of same-sex “marriage,” Trump nominated a variety of pro-LGBT officials to various government posts and judicial vacancies and continued some Obama-era LGBT policies, such as an executive order on “gender identity nondiscrimination” and U.S. support for international recognition of homosexual relations at the United Nations Human Rights Council. His campaign actively courted LGBT voters with rainbow merchandise.
At the same time, Trump prioritized religious liberty and was generally aligned with social conservatives against the gender-fluidity movement, from banning gender-confused soldiers from the military to protecting women from having to share close quarters such as homeless shelters with men claiming to be transgendered. His White House also opposed the so-called “Equality Act” and maintained a biological definition of sex in its implementation of federal laws and regulations.
While running for reelection, Trump has pledged to “protect children from left-wing gender insanity” including banning federal funding, approval, and promotion of “gender transition” practices. In December, however, he hosted a gala for the Log Cabin Republicans at his Mar-a-Lago resort home, where he declared, “we are fighting for the gay community, and we are fighting and fighting hard. With the help of many of the people here tonight in recent years, our movement has taken incredible strides, the strides you’ve made here is incredible.”
Many at the event reportedly celebrated Democrat President Joe Biden’s signing of the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act,” which forces all 50 states to recognize homosexual unions as marriage, though Trump himself did not mention the law in his remarks.
The former president and his surrogates have also sent mixed signals on related controversies during the course of the campaign. Trump initially claimed that Florida’s revocation of special privileges for far-left entertainment giant Disney was “unnecessary” and a “political STUNT,” only to later claim that DeSantis “should have stopped” Disney from becoming a “Woke and Disgusting shadow of its former self.”
In the spring, Trump’s son Donald Jr. raised conservative eyebrows by calling himself “fairly liberal” on transgender issues when confined to adults and by urging conservatives not to boycott beer company Anheuser-Busch for promoting gender fluidity, on the grounds that it donated to Republicans and was not as involved in other “woke” causes than other companies, despite the Anheuser-Busch’s long record of LGBT promotion.
DeSantis is campaigning in large part of his record of opposing the LGBT agenda, such as banning “transition” procedures on minors, defunding “diversity” initiatives in education, keeping pro-LGBT sexual proselytization out of public schools, and stopping state pension funds from being used to incentivize corporate involvement in “woke” causes.
For months the only major declared candidate in the GOP’s presidential primary, Trump maintains an intensely loyal core of supporters and an army of professional defenders in conservative media and continues to hold a commanding lead in national primary polls. DeSantis has the edge in fundraising and is expected to be competitive in the early states, aided by an ambitious ground operation. Voting in the Republican primaries does not begin until next January with the Iowa caucuses.