Editor’s note: This is an opinion editorial and not reflective of the author’s reporting on LGBTQ issues for this site.
When Sarah Palin was nominated for Vice President and later mounted her own campaign for the Oval Office, it opened the door for Donald Trump. Both are political neophytes whose cults of personality appeal to the most extreme and excitable fringes of the GOP, even while having almost no knowledge of how the world works. But until now, it’s been an open question: Who does Trump’s presidency open the door for?
Unfortunately, we may have our answer tomorrow.
A man accused of sexual misconduct by at least nine women is leading by 2.5 percentage points in the Alabama Senate race, even despite a nightmare news cycle that would have derailed just about any other candidacy.
One of Roy Moore’s accusers, Leigh Corfman, was 14 when she claims he manipulated her mother into getting her alone, gave her his number, and then fondled her over her clothing on her second date. A former waitress in Gadsden, Ala., Beverly Young Nelson, says that Moore attempted to rape her after offering her a ride home from work. Nelson was just 16 when the former prosecutor attacked her in his parked car, telling her that no one would believe her story if she came forward.
“You’re just a child, and I am the district attorney,” he allegedly told her.
A single woman accusing a powerful man of abusing his power in order to coerce her into sex should have been enough, let alone nine.
But Moore has withstood these extremely consistent and extremely well-sourced claims. The allegations were well-known to colleagues and common enough knowledge in his small Alabama town that police were advised him to keep him away from shopping malls and high school cheerleaders. This is not political spin but the very facts of public record. Many, many people have known about Moore’s history for years and it hasat no point in his improbable four-decade career in public lifebeen a disqualifier.
The 70-year-old, who has been fired from the Alabama Supreme Court twice, isn’t merely a man accused of second-degree sexual abuse or giving alcohol to minors in order to coerce them into having sex. Moore’s entire existence is the antithesis of every fiber of progress that women, people of color, and the LGBTQ movement have made in the past five decades.
For those worried that Trump would embolden the darkest forces in American life to lift their skeletal hands through the dirt, look no further.
Moore’s anti-LGBTQ record is not a bug but a feature of his public platform. The former judge has claimed that homosexuality should be illegal, blamed gay people for September 11, and compared same-sex marriage to slavery. When CNN anchor Anderson Cooper asked his campaign manager, Janet Porter, last week if Moore’s positions on the subject had changed, she couldn’t answer the questionclose to a dozen times. Porter instead pivoted to his belief in the word of the Bible and the Constitution.
For those following along at home, that’s a “no.”
It’s not just that Moore isn’t sure if gay people should face the death penalty, offering up a glorified answer of “maybe” on the question when asked by radio host Kevin Swanson. The politician has defended slavery, saying that Americans “were united” and “cared for one another” before black people were recognized as human. He refers to Native people and Asian-Americansas “reds” and “yellows.”
It’s been widely reported that Moore, who has likened the Quran to Mein Kampf, claimed that Keith Ellison’s Muslim faith should disqualify him from Congress. But what has been left out of those headlines is that the Alabama conservative suggested his future colleague could be a terrorist in an op-ed for World Net Daily.
“Perhaps Ellison is confused about what he believes, or else he has another agenda,” Moore wrote of the Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee back in 2006.
Porter was also unable to state whether Moore’s opinion on Ellison has changed since.
That’s another “no.”
Voters will decide on Dec. 12 if a man who claimed that a lesbian mother’s sexuality posed a danger to her children should be allowed to stand alongside giants like Elizabeth Warren, Barbara Boxer, and Dick Durbin. Moore would sit in the same chamber as figures like John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, and Lyndon B. Johnson.
But in many ways, Republicans have already spoken: After initially abandoning his campaign, party leaders have failed to condemn him. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has backtracked on calling for Moore’s removal from the race, as well as any potential action from the Senate Ethics Committee. McConnell claimed that Congress will look at the election as a referendum on his guilt. Trump, who has never condemned Moore’s actions, stumped for him at a Friday rally. The president even recorded a robocall for the embattled candidate.
The GOP was never realistically going to abandon Moore. After allowing a man accused of sexual assault by nearly 20 women to be presidentone who announced his campaign for the Oval Office by calling Latinos “rapists”the line of what constitutes acceptable behavior has been erased several times over.
It’s telling that Moore voters told NBC reporters that he “could have killed Obama” and his base “wouldn’t care.”
Should the Republican win tomorrow, he will defeat a man who devoted his life to putting men like Moore behind bars. Doug Jones, a former prosecutor, has spent his career prosecuting child pornographers, pedophiles, and rapists. A victory for Moore would speak volumes about what conservatives value: putting party above safety, bitter tribalism over the rights of women and minorities, and dogmatism over dignity.
Put plainly, Alabama voters would be sending the messageall over againthat a sexual abuser is preferable to a Democrat in Congress.
Tomorrow’s special election is about more than deciding which of these two men will fill Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat, which should be more of a no-brainer than polls indicate it is. The race is about deciding what America we want to live in and what it stands for.
After Trump won the Electoral Vote in November, people from several nations have been banned from entering the United States based on what color their skin is and which God they worship. Hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, and LGBTQ people have skyrocketed. The president attempted to ban transgender troops from serving openly in the militarya policy that was pushed by extremist religious groups who believe the exact same things about queer and trans folks that Moore does.
The man who paved the way for the conservative’s candidacy told voters on Friday that the GOP “cannot afford” losing a Republican vote in the Senate. That may be true, but after a year where Pandora’s box has been unlocked, jackhammered, and its remains tossed into the air like confetti, our country cannot afford the dangerous precedent that Moore’s victory sets.
When Roy Moore is in the Senate, there’s simply no door left to open.