A Democrat has replaced George Santos. Where does he stand on queer rights?

On Tuesday, the special election to replace George Santos concluded — which means we’re that much closer to never having to hear about the queerphobic gay Republican ever again. So exactly who has replaced the controversial representative and what are their stances on LGBTQ+ rights?

The race came down to two main candidates: Democratic nominee Tom Suozzi and Republican nominee Mazi Pilip. With four seats up for grabs in the House and a 219-212 split in favor of Republicans, the stakes were high. Now, voters of New York’s 3rd District have flipped at least one of those seats, electing Suozzi to replace Santos.

Suozzi previously served three terms in the House of Representatives. After beating Santos in 2020, he chose not to seek reelection in 2022 (the year Santos won) in order to run for New York state governor.

In terms of LGBTQ+ rights, Suozzi has consistently earned a perfect score on the HRC’s Congressional Scorecard, and the HRC officially endorsed his campaign in December.  But according to The Advocate, he once made comments on a conservative radio show that appeared to sympathize with Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Following backlash, he later apologized and clarified that he was responding to a question about explicit sex education for young children (which no one is arguing for). “I said, ‘I think that would be reasonable not to do that,’” Suozzi explained. “So I was very inartful in the way that I spoke. I should have recognized that I should have said very firmly that what that law did do was inappropriate.

“But he was saying, you know, I think that most people think that we shouldn’t talk to kids about sex in kindergarten and first grade. I think that common sense says that. And existing law says that in most states, that you don’t talk about sex education till fifth grade. But the [‘Don’t Say Gay’] law does much more than that. And I should have talked about the overall law, not just the issue of talking about sex and genitalia.”

Santos, who became the first out gay Republican elected to Congress, openly supported the “Don’t Say Gay” law while in office. He also advanced legislation for a national book ban targeting LGBTQ+ materials and claimed that Democrats are trying “erase women” by supporting trans rights. That’s not to mention all of his other ghoulish right wing behavior, like denying the 2020 presidential election, comparing abortion to slavery, and claiming that police brutality is made-up—as a professional maker-upper himself, he would know!

With Santos heading to court to face 23 counts of felony and fraud, hopefully the next time we’ll hear from him will be from a jail cell. In the meantime, Suozzi will finish out Santos’s remaining 11-month term and will face voters again in November.

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