Better Know An Anti-LGBT Senate Candidate: Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

Eleventh in a series examining how anti-LGBT Senate candidates have worked to hurt the cause of equality.

In late August, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) won his party’s nomination for the open seat of retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R). He faces former George W. Bush administration Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D), a former independent. Unlike Carmona, who is a strong supporter of LGBT equality, Flake has has voted against the LGBT community at nearly every opportunity.

Over his twelve years in the House of Representatives and this Senate campaign:

1. Flake voted against marriage equality and even domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples. In 2004 and 2006, he voted for a constitutional amendment requiring “marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.” Last year, he backed an amendment reaffirming the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. He also voted for a 2007 amendment restricting the District of Columbia government from using any federal funding to provide domestic partnership benefits, a 2011 amendment reaffirming the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and a 2004 bill of questionable constitutionality to strip federal courts of the right to review whether DOMA is unconstitutional. Last August told constituents he believes marriage should be a state issue, but reaffirmed his support for keeping DOMA — which prevents the federal government from recognizing marriages from states that opt to allow marriage equality. He also co-sponsored a resolution condemning the Obama administration for the Department of Justice’s refusal to defend DOMA in court.


2. Flake thinks it should be legal to fire someone just for being transgender. Though he was one of 35 Republicans in the House to vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2007 (after voting to kill the measure moments before in a procedural vote), but did so only after protections for transgender Americans had been removed from the measure. He refused to support the 2010 transgender-inclusive version of the bill because he claimed those protections made it “too nebulous” and said he thought gender-identity protections would be “too difficult to implement for business owners to respond to.” Worse, he refused to even adopt a non-discrimination policy against LGBT discrimination for employees in his own Congressional office.

3. Flake voted against Hate Crimes protections for LGBT Americans. In 2004, 2007 and 2009, he voted against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the federal hate crimes laws.

4. Flake boasted of a 100 percent rating from a designated hate group. His 2006 campaign website boasted of a 100 percent rating by the Family Research Council. As recently as 2010, the group endorsed his re-election with “True Blue” status. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated FRC as a hate group for its record of “false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science.”

5. Flake had to apologize for calling himself a “pansy” in an interview. After spending a week alone on a deserted island, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he took the trip because he “felt like a pansy.” A spokesman later said Flake “didn’t realize that that word can have a negative connotation” and that “he apologizes if anyone took offense to it.” His office posted a version of the interview on YouTube, with that section cut out.

Watch the redacted video of the interview:

Even after voting to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Flake’s Human Rights Campaign score — a zero for his first three terms in Congress — rose to just 20 percent for the 111th Congress.

Flake’s election to the U.S. Senate would be a huge threat to LGBT people and families.