Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) attacked both abortion rights and the transgender community in an ad he rolled out on Thursday for his campaign for governor of Louisiana.
In his advertisement, Abraham declares what he pronounces to be “the truth,” proclaiming that life begins at conception and that President Donald Trump “is doing a great job.” At the end of the spot, he adds with a smirk that, “as a doctor, I can assure you there are only two genders.”
Abraham, along with Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone, are the two leading Republican candidates challenging Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), who was elected in 2016.
In 2017, Abraham said to subscribers of his newsletter that he was working to restore congressional authority over how the federal government can define sex and gender, according to Salon. He was one of five co-sponsors of a bill called the Civil Rights Uniformity Act of 2017, a resolution that would state that sex or gender could be interpreted as including gender identity.
Abraham’s legislative efforts were in response to Obama-era protections for transgender students, which the Trump administration has since rolled back. The bill Abraham co-sponsored did not ultimately pass.
Since then, the House in May passed the Equality Act, a sweeping nondiscrimination bill that would clarify and enhance protections for LGBTQ Americans. One-hundred and seventy-three House Republicans voted against it, including Abraham. The Senate has not taken up the bill.
States across the country increasingly are passing legislation that show an awareness of nonbinary constituents. This legislation provides a third gender marker on drivers’ licenses and other forms of government identification.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently updated its website to address how employers can report workers as nonbinary in EEO-1 reports. Twelve percent of millennials say they are transgender, agender, genderfluid, or bigender, according to a 2017 Harris Poll conducted on behalf of GLAAD.
Some historians recently argued in an amicus brief relevant to U.S. Supreme Court cases on employment protections that the understanding of sex in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s was such that LGBTQ people could have been understood to be included in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They wrote, “This broad understanding of sex, as evoking a range of sex roles, sexual expression, and sexual instincts, shaped public knowledge about LGBT individuals.”
Abraham’s poor record on LGBTQ rights includes a vote against a measure that would have changed federal law to make it clear that queer veterans are entitled to spousal benefits. The measure would have shown that some veterans have spouses of the same sex.
Abraham made his anti-abortion statement while running for governor of a state that has numerous abortion restrictions, including the mandate that patients undergo ultrasounds 24 hours before they can receive an abortion, parental consent requirements for minors, and state-directed counseling that is meant to discourage patients from having abortions. Abortion would also be banned if Roe v. Wade were overturned. However, Louisiana’s Democratic governor signed into law a six-week abortion ban in May.
Edwards said on his radio show, “This is an issue I’ve been consistent on forever. I am pro-life.”
Years ago, the governor issued an executive order to protect LGBTQ state-government workers from discrimination, but the Louisiana Supreme Court sided with Attorney General Jeff Landry, who said it was “unconstitutional.”
In addition to Abraham’s opposition to LGBTQ rights and abortion access, the congressman has also made racist comments to express his support for Trump.
The president suggested that four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” instead of telling people “how our government is to be run.”
Abraham tweeted that he would pay for their tickets out of the country. He called them “un-American.” All four are American citizens, and three were born in the U.S.