State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak), April 20, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins
State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) has had a video of her Tuesday floor speech, which decried a GOP senator attacking her as a “groomer” for backing LGBTQ+ rights, rack up 10.4 million views so far, thanks to retweets from the likes of Hillary Clinton.
Last week, McMorrow and two other Democrats walked out during an invocation given by state Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) prior to session. Theis had claimed children are “under attack” from “forces that desire things for them other than what their parents would have them see and hear and know.”
McMorrow and others spoke out on Twitter about the remarks, which apparently referenced Republicans’ national crackdown on teachings that reference LGBTQ+ issues and America’s history of racism.
She has previously introduced anti-trans legislation to require high schools to ban transgender boys from cisgender boys’ sports teams and transgender girls from cisgender girls’ teams.
Theis, singling out McMorrow, then named her in a fundraising email Monday insinuating that she and other Democrats groom and sexualize children. The language echoed that of many who believe in the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory.
“Progressive social media trolls like Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Snowflake) who are outraged they can’t … groom and sexualize kindergarteners or that 8-year-olds are responsible for slavery,” the email reads.
Theis is facing a tough primary challenge from former President Trump-endorsed Republican Mike Detmer.
McMorrow had slammed the email for being “hateful” in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, earning her media appearances on MSNBC and praise from progressives for showing how to forcefully push back against GOP culture war attacks in 2022.
Back in the Senate Wednesday, McMorrow held back tears while recalling a conversation with her mother about the incident. McMorrow told reporters her mother cried, was “horrified,” and “asked why I still do this, and to think of my daughter.”
“Do you see being able to work together anymore?” a reporter asked the first-term Democrat.
“No,” McMorrow replied, without hesitation.
“… I wish we could work across the aisle at all.”
Theis left the Senate floor before session adjourned and did not make herself available to speak with reporters. She has not responded to several requests for comment from the Advance.
She did release a short statement Wednesday, accusing McMorrow of capitalizing on the controversy for her reelection campaign.
“Sen. McMorrow is not naive about politics and fundraising. I know that because it took her mere minutes to turn her Senate floor speech into a plea for campaign donations.
“While Sen. McMorrow is on MSNBC preaching to her choir, I’ll keep my focus on Michigan parents, who Democrats are seeking to undermine as the primary decision-makers in the education of their children.”
McMorrow said that she is acutely aware that rhetoric like that of Theis’ fundraising email can lead to very real consequences, noting the “pizzagate” conspiracy that led to a shooter barging into a pizza shop in Washington, D.C. and preceded the far-reaching QAnon conspiracy.
“Now we have a major political party using that openly as the message and the rhetoric,” McMorrow said. “… We’re in a really bad place.”
The Democrat said that, despite being “horrified” and upset by Theis’ words, the feedback her office has received so far since the incident has been “overwhelmingly positive” and she has been contacted by people as far away as Texas praising her for standing up to Theis.
As far as the possibility of suing Theis for libel, McMorrow said she is “not planning to do that.”
“Like I said, I hope more people will stand up and take the hit and say this is not OK. … I think that’s a lot more powerful than me suing for libel.”
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