Advance Notice: Briefs

Biden calls McMorrow with praise, Theis continues fundraising off anti-LGBTQ+ comments

By: - April 25, 2022 12:29 pm

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Flint drive-in rally with former President Barack Obama, Oct. 31, 2020 | Andrew Roth

State Sen. McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) is still receiving national acclaim for her viral floor speech last week, even receiving on Friday a personal call from President Joe Biden. Meanwhile, state Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) sent out another fundraising email after baselessly accusing McMorrow and Democrats of “grooming” and “sexualizing” children.

The controversy began on April 14 when Theis gave an invocation prior to session that 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.”

Lana Theis

The remarks referenced the nationwide GOP effort to crack down on teachings that reference LGBTQ+ issues. McMorrow and other Democrats walked out in protest and spoke out on Twitter about Theis’ remarks.

Theis fired back by specifically naming McMorrow in a fundraising email for her 2022 campaign days later that insinuated she and other Democrats groom and sexualize children. The language echoed ideas aligned with 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.

McMorrow denounced the email in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, captured in a video that has 14.5 million views and earned her several national media appearances, thousands of Twitter followers and hundreds of thousands in donations.

On Friday, Biden chimed in with a phone call of support.

“I didn’t wake up on Monday morning thinking that, by Friday, I’d answer a phone call saying, “Hi, Mr. President.” I’m humbled by @potus reaching out to discuss my speech, why we do this, and what it means for the soul of the nation. We can, and we will.  #HateWontWin,” McMorrow tweeted.

Theis has now appeared to delete the Twitter account that she originally used to post the Advance’s original story about the controversy.

But on Saturday, she sent out another email from her campaign titled, “It’s not me they’re after …” slamming Democrats for “woke virtue-signaling.”

Theis said that in addition to messages from parents grateful for her “standing up for their children,” she is “also getting vile, hateful emails, which I’m sorry to say, is predictable because the very group espousing #hatewontwin uses lies and political spin to create a visceral, hateful response from their base.”

She again claimed “activist teachers” are indoctrinating children and will share examples from around the country in the coming weeks.

“These people aren’t really after me. They are after our kids and I’m standing in the way,” Theis said.

The Brighton Republican had also defended her comments on a radio show Thursday. Despite admitting in passing that her first fundraising email’s language was “clunky” and could have been “written differently,” she doubled down on her accusation of Democrats grooming children by being willing to teach them about LGBTQ+ issues.


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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.