From an ideal theoretical standpoint, my political beliefs align well with those of Ron DeSantis, as I am a staunch lifelong conservative, vehemently object to all COVID-related restrictions, and possess a fervent distaste for Donald Trump. In principle, it would seem that I embody the perfect constituent for a political figure such as DeSantis.
However, a stark obstacle poses a problem for DeSantis in winning my vote: I am a homosexual woman, and I firmly resist his confrontations against the LGBTQ+ community.
Initially, I was unreservedly supportive of DeSantis until his campaign disseminated an advertisement that might be deemed the most aggressive anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda in recent times. The ad was flaunting all the actions he has endorsed that restrict the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. DeSantis not only confirmed the mainstream media’s allegations of his anti-LGBTQ+ stance, but he also derided any Republican candidate expressing interest in LGBTQ+ rights, taking the party’s progress back by decades.
Despite my conservative leanings, I cannot support DeSantis, given my identity as a lesbian. DeSantis has manifestly communicated his unwillingness to welcome LGBTQ+ conservatives into his political fold due to their identity.
DeSantis initially seemed an ideal candidate during his contemplation of a presidential run, appearing as a Trump-like figure without the trademark Trump antics. Little did I know that DeSantis would lean further to the right on matters that are fundamentally important to me and to the vast majority of Americans who endorse gay rights, a figure exceeding 70%.
In recent times, he has demonstrated a greater interest in pandering to online critics who disdain anyone identifying as LGBTQ+. In DeSantis’s view, being gay disqualifies one from participating in the conservative movement.
Incredibly, as evidenced by his recent anti-LGBTQ+ ad, DeSantis’s stance on LGBTQ+ issues is even more extreme than Trump’s. If Trump was dismissive of the movement, DeSantis is outright antagonistic.
My sexual orientation does not influence Florida’s economic boom amid a stagnant economy. Nevertheless, DeSantis has emphasized his lack of support for gay Americans, irrespective of their alignment with his conservative principles.
Initially, during DeSantis’s firm resistance to COVID mandates, I was largely satisfied with his approach. However, when the legislative session began to highlight LGBTQ+ rights, my enthusiasm rapidly dwindled into disappointment as DeSantis’s lack of commitment to individual freedoms became evident.
His antagonistic attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community not only inflict deep pain on LGBTQ+ Americans but also tarnish the reputation of the conservative movement. Despite being a lifelong conservative who supports limited government, personal responsibility, and individual liberties, I find DeSantis’s handling of LGBTQ+ issues to be diametrically opposed to these principles.
By rejecting LGBTQ+ conservatives and attacking their rights, DeSantis alienates a considerable portion of his potential supporters, effectively repelling voters who agree with his conservative ideals. It’s disheartening to observe a potential unifying figure within the party exacerbating divisions.
DeSantis’s position on LGBTQ+ issues contradicts not only conservative values but also exhibits a serious disconnect from the majority of Americans who support gay rights. Considering that more than 70% of Americans support gay marriage, DeSantis’s disregard for such a significant segment of the population reveals an alarming ignorance of evolving societal norms and values.
As a lesbian, my sexual orientation is but one facet of my identity and should not dictate my political beliefs or my position within the conservative movement. Regrettably, DeSantis appears to perceive one’s sexual orientation as a measure of their eligibility to be part of the conservative cause, a divisive mindset detrimental to the Republican party’s future success.
The Republican party should aspire to be a broad-based party that welcomes diverse perspectives. Excluding LGBTQ+ individuals weakens the party’s appeal and limits its capacity to draw in new supporters. It’s imperative for the party to adjust to the changing attitudes of Americans, rather than adhering to obsolete and discriminatory beliefs.
DeSantis must acknowledge that his anti-gay rhetoric harms not only LGBTQ+ Americans but also the principles he purports to uphold. To truly lead the conservative movement and effect positive change for all Americans, he must relinquish divisive strategies and focus on policies fostering unity and inclusion.
So far, his repugnant anti-gay rhetoric has only resulted in alienating ordinary Americans, including conservatives like myself. His attacks on the LGBTQ+ community and exclusion of LGBTQ+ conservatives are both ethically reprehensible and politically ill-advised. The Republican party must distance itself from such damaging actions and strive to be a party that welcomes all Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation. Only then can it hope to reflect genuine conservative values and garner the support needed to succeed in future elections.