Gade, the Republican candidate competing against incumbent Democrat Mark Warner to represent Virginia in the United States Senate, has a history of anti-LGBTQ views that should give LGBTQ Virginians pause.
A candidate with a history of anti-LGBTQ comments and a platform that supports discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is vying for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Daniel Gade, the Republican candidate running against incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Warner, opposes additional protections against discrimination, and has sought endorsements from anti-LGBTQ activists.
Gade hasn’t previously held political office, but spent years serving the U.S. Army in Iraq, where he lost his right leg and was awarded the Bronze Star. He retired in 2017 at the rank of lieutenant colonel. Gade worked on veteran’s issues, disability policy, and military healthcare in President George W. Bush’s administration, and was nominated by President Donald Trump to be a member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but declined the position due to the “toxic political climate in Washington.”
Gade’s platform on LGBTQ issues contrasts with Warner’s platform and voting record in the Senate. Warner has a record of voting in support of LGBTQ rights 100 percent of the time, including co-sponsoring the Equality Act in 2019.
“Discrimination has no place in our nation’s laws, and it has no place in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Warner said in a statement. “I was the first Virginia Governor to ban discrimination in state employment based on sexual orientation, and I recognize that while we’ve made tremendous strides in the journey towards equality, work still remains. That’s why I’m a proud supporter and original co-sponsor of the Equality Act.”
Gade’s rhetoric during his candidacy has made clear his opposition to equal protection for LGBTQ Virginians. He publicly opposed the Equality Act during a speech in Virginia Beach in January 2020, which included anti-transgender rethoric.
“Freedom of worship, not freedom of religion,” Gade said. “And what does that look like? It looks like a bill sponsored by Mark Warner with the greatest name ever. I mean the Equality Act today. We’re all for equality, right? …but Equality Act would erase 50 years of women’s rights gains since the 1960s by putting men in women’s locker rooms, by putting men in women sports, just on their word that they now self-identify as woman. OK, it’s a bad bill.”
In 2017, before Gade declined his nominated position on the EEOC, Lambda Legal director of strategy Sharon McGowan told NBC News that Gade’s appointment alongside Janet Dhillon would be a “huge loss” to LGBTQ advocates and discimination cases. Gade and Dhillon testified before the Senate that they’re “personally opposed to workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” but declined to confirm that they’d support the Obama-era EEOC policy that makes this type of discimination illegal under civil rights laws.
In 2013, Warner voted against the amendment to permit employment discrimination by businesses owned by religious organizations, a policy that Gade expressed support for in a speech in August 2019, when he said that bakers should be legally permitted to refuse to bake a cake for gay clients, citing religious liberty.
“Those principles may actually come in conflict with other people’s principles,” Gade said. “So if you’re a baker who doesn’t want to bake the wedding cake for somebody who’s violating what you believe are important spiritual laws, the left would make you bake the cake and they would make you bend the knee to that ideology.”
In response to an iVoterGuide questionnaire, Gade said that he “strongly disagrees” that sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression should be considered protected classes under anti-discrimination statutes. He “strongly agrees” that businesses and institutions should be able to engage in discrimination against people whose marriages fall outside the traditional “one man and one woman” standard.
Additionally, Gade has said that he supports the removal of all federal funding to Planned Parenthood, a medical provider that not only supports women’s reproductive health access to abortions but is a committed primary caregiver of affordable healthcare to transgender individuals. Warner’s voting record on multiple bills shows his support of Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive health.
“As Virginia’s Senator, I’ve voted against partisan attacks on Planned Parenthood, which would reduce access to health care in our country, and I’m proud to have earned their endorsement in the 2020 election cycle,” Warner said in a statement.
Gade is endorsed by E.W. Jackson, a far-right anti-LGBTQ pastor who has said the “Homovirus” is destroying America and warned that if Pete Buttigieg was elected the country would become a “homocracy.” Gade and Jackson spoke at an event held by the Family Foundation, an anti-LGBTQ group that has opposed bans on conversion therapy and anti-discrimination measures. The Family Foundation is a donor to Gade’s campaign.
Gade’s anti-LGBTQ policies should be concerning to those who wish for equality. If Gade is elected to the U.S. Senate, he seems likely to be a destructive force against the rights of LGBTQ Virginians.
Top Photo via Daniel Gade/Facebook