Michigan Republican ticket silent on MIGOP Co-Chair Maddock’s homophobic tweet

By: - September 13, 2022 12:52 pm

GOP nominees (L-R): Tudor Dixon for governor, Matt DePerno for attorney general and Kristina Karamo for secretary of state | Andrew Roth and Allison R. Donahue photos

While the condemnation continues of Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock’s homophobic tweet, some even from within her own party, the sounds of silence are deafening from the top of the GOP’s November ticket.

Maddock made the attack in a tweet Sunday against U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is gay and moved this year from Indiana to Michigan. 

“We’re so blessed this weak little girl moved to Michigan!” Maddock wrote in response to Buttigieg’s interest in a move away from gas-powered vehicles. “Looks like he’s bringing all his California Dreaming here with him.”

The response from Democrats and progressives was swift, calling it “disgusting” and demanding her resignation

Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock at a GOP gubernatorial debate in Warren, June 30, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

Lonnie Scott, Executive Director of Progress Michigan, said the tweet was a further example of blatant bigotry running rampant in the Michigan GOP.

“It isn’t just about words thrown carelessly around online and disgusting jokes made at the expense of real people just trying to live their lives,” said Scott. “The Michigan Republican Party has stood in the way of legislation that would ensure LGBTQ+ Michiganders are treated equally under the law, pushed dangerous disinformation, and held up bigoted viewpoints that result in violence. This is completely unacceptable.”

None of the three GOP contenders seeking statewide office — gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon, Attorney General nominee Matt DePerno and Secretary of State nominee Kristina Karamo — has commented on the tweet nor responded to a request by Michigan Advance for a statement.

However, all three have made statements and/or advocated for policies that are considered hostile to the LGBTQ+ community.

In June, Dixon tweeted her own homophobic statement following Attorney General Dana Nessel’s tongue-in-cheek comments about supporting drag queens in every school in response to Republicans’ anti-LGBTQ+ positions.

“When I am governor, schools will answer to local parents, not progressive activists, drag queens, and trans-supremacists,” said Dixon. The days of radical activist politicians sexualizing our kids are over.”

Dixon also held a press conference with GOP legislators proposing that schools can be sued if they hold drag shows, even though no Michigan schools have done so.

On Nov. 8, Dixon faces Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a longtime supporter of LGBTQ+ rights who was the first governor to fly Pride flags on state buildings. 

Nessel, Michigan’s first openly gay top official who litigated the Michigan case overturning the ban on same-sex marriage, is running for reelection in November against DePerno.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (left) Attorney General Dana Nessel (center) and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (right) | Andrew Roth photos

DePerno has also espoused anti-LGBTQ+ positions and has falsely accused Nessel of “grooming,” an attack on LGBTQ+ people that many Republican candidates have deployed this campaign.

Karamo has said churches that hang a rainbow flag are “agents of Satan,” has also made claims connecting premarital sex and the LGBTQ+ community with pedophilia and bestiality. She is running against Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who has instituted transgender-inclusive policies for driver licenses.

At least two Republican lawmakers have condemned Maddock for the tweet. Both represent the Traverse City area, which is where Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, recently moved.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks at the Mackinac Policy Conference, June 1, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

State Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann) posted his disapproval on Facebook.

“When I saw this tweet I was disgusted,” said O’Malley. “I mean we are in an era of name calling and disrespect. It needs to stop. Disagreeing is one thing but insults and slurs…enough.”

State Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) also took to Facebook to denounce the tweet. Schmidt is one of two GOP co-sponsors of legislation widely backed by Democratic lawmakers to add LGBTQ+ people to the state’s civil rights act.

“I’m not sure I even recognize the Republican party of today,” said Schmidt. “This is not the party I have been a part of my entire political career. Denigrating slurs and highly personal insults have no space in respectful political discourse. We can disagree on policy without engaging in this type of behavior. We are better than this.”

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.

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