- The Magazine
LGBTQ groups are criticizing a California Republican congressional candidate over a video of her bragging that she withdrew her daughter from college after the young woman expressed support for marriage equality.
Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.) in California’s 48th Congressional District, has come under fire after video footage of her making allegedly homophobic comments at a February 2014 meeting of The Newport Mesa Tea Party were released this week.
In the video clip, Steel claims she withdrew her daughter from UC Santa Cruz after she expressed support for same-sex marriage and indicated she was inclined to vote for former President Barack Obama.
“We have two daughters, and one graduated from USC and one graduated from Vanderbilt. I always talk about — the USC kid was just perfect, but God’s always fair, so they give you [a] little different kid for the second one,” Steel said.
“So she actually begin — began, she chose the University of [California,] Santa Cruz, and then she started talking about that, you know, ‘I’m going to vote for Obama. … And then she said, ‘God gave us two men — what’s wrong with gay marriage?’ We brought her back and we sent her to [Loyola] Marymount,” Steel said to laughter from the audience.
“So she graduated — she actually went to [Loyola] Marymount [for] one year of brainwash, and then after that, we sent her to Vanderbilt.”
Following the video’s re-emergence, LGBTQ groups slammed Steel for her comments.
Equality California said in a press release that Steel has a history of anti-LGBTQ actions and statements. In June 2017, Steel cast the lone dissenting vote on the Orange County Board of Supervisors against funding for the Orange County Human Relations Commission, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Steel’s appointee to the commission also voted that same month to block the release of a report detailing an increase in the number of hate crimes in the county, with immigrants and Black and LGBTQ residents making up a substantial number of the victims. That move was opposed by Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel, who also serves on the commission and pushed for the report’s release.
Equality California also alleges that Steel’s campaign has accepted significant contributions from the Ahmanson family and its personal donor organization, Fieldstead and Company, who have a history of donating to anti-LGBTQ causes, including the campaign in support of Proposition 8 in 2008.
“Michelle Steel’s tired brand of homophobia has no place in Orange County and no place in the halls of Congress,” Equality California Managing Director Tony Hoang said in a statement.
“Michelle Steel says she wants to represent Orange County families in Congress, but she’s made her contempt for thousands of her would-be constituents crystal clear.
“Voters in California’s 48th Congressional District rejected [former Congressman] Dana Rohrabacher’s homophobia in 2018, and we’re confident they’ll do the same to Ms. Steel this year,” Hoang added.
“Orange County families want and deserve a representative like Harley Rouda, who will fight to protect our civil rights — not someone who thinks LGBTQ+ people are second-class citizens.”
Hans Furtago Laursen, a Seal Beach resident and urgent care doctor in Southern California who is raising a son with his husband in the district, also condemned Steel’s remarks.
“When I take care of patients on the front lines fighting COVID, I don’t care who they are, whom they love or what they look like,” he said.
“I know I would treat Michelle Steel fairly if she were my patient. But she says she wouldn’t represent me and my family fairly as our member of Congress. She is acting just like our last Congressman, whom we fired, who thought homeowners should be able to refuse to sell their homes to families like mine.”
Laursen added: “I’m on the front lines fighting COVID, but she wants to represent me by saying that families like mine don’t count. She’s saying that my 1-year-old son, my husband, and I don’t really count as equal before the law in her eyes.
“The Supreme Court says we are, but she doesn’t. I know this — I’m going to work extra hard to make sure that someone like Harley Rouda, who values and fights for all his constituents, continues to represent me in Washington, D.C.”
See the video of Steel’s comments below:
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!