LGBTQ groups blasted Georgia Republican candidate Herschel Walker on Monday and demanded he pull a new campaign ad in the Peach State’s Senate runoff that calls transgender women and girls “biological males” that should not be allowed to compete against female athletes.
The ad’s release comes just two days after a gunman fatally shot five people and injured at least 25 more at Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance.
“Shame on Herschel Walker — and shame on every politician using LGBTQ lives as political props,” Nadine Bridges, executive director of the nonprofit One Colorado, told The Hill in a statement.
State legislatures across the country have introduced a flurry of measures targeting LGBTQ people in the past year, especially transgender youth, and LGBTQ activists have blamed inflammatory anti-LGBTQ rhetoric for contributing to Sunday’s shooting.
The suspect has been charged with murder and hate crimes, according to The Hill.
“There’s an undeniable nexus between this kind of baseless and hateful rhetoric and the violence leveled against our community this weekend in Colorado Springs and the violence being perpetrated against marginalized communities all across this country,” Bridges said Monday.
In the 30-second ad spot, Walker appears alongside former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, who tied with former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas for fifth place in the women’s 200-meter freestyle finals at this year’s NCAA championships.
Thomas is transgender.
“I worked so hard — 4 a.m. practices to be the best — but my senior year I was forced to compete against a biological male,” Gaines says in the ad, referring to Thomas.
“That’s unfair and wrong,” Walker says directly to the camera, as he sits next to Gaines.
Thomas became the first transgender woman to win a national Division I athletics title when she won the women’s 500-meter freestyle in March.
“Airing this kind of rubbish under the guise of a political campaign was already deplorable enough — but in the wake of Saturday night’s massacre at Club Q, it’s simply unconscionable,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive of the LGBTQ organization GLAAD, said Monday. “These ads should be pulled immediately from Georgia’s airwaves before more lives are put in danger.”
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