A Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate who is surging in the polls has a long history of anti-gay and anti-Muslim statements.
Kathy Barnette is an Army Reserves veteran and conservative political commentator, who, according to recent polls, has moved into a three-way statistical tie with frontrunners Mehmet Oz, a former TV star endorsed by former President Donald Trump, and hedge fund manager David McCormick.
Barnette has used her public position to attack — among other groups — members of the LGBTQ community, often casting them as a threat to traditional family structures, society at large, and children. According to CNN, in comments on her radio show, Barnette has frequently condemned being gay or transgender, claiming that accepting homosexuality or gender-nonconformity could lead to a host of various ills.
“Two men sleeping together, two men holding hands, two men caressing, that is not normal,” Barnette said during a 2015 episode of her radio show, “Truth Exchange,” a radio show with a Biblical worldview on social and political issues.
In that broadcast, Barnette argued that the legalization of same-sex marriage would infringe on individuals’ freedom of conscience and religious liberty, and even suggested that the pro-equality ruling from the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges would ultimately lead to societal acceptance of incest and pedophilia.
“If love is the litmus test, who are we to say, well, your love is legitimate love, same-sex couples, but your love, father and daughter, is not legitimate. Or your love, one man and three women, is not legitimate, or one older man and a 12-year-old child,” she said. “If love is the litmus test, it becomes a very slippery slope. And that is where we, we find ourselves today.”
The episode has since been deleted from Barnette’s SoundCloud page after CNN’s KFile asked the Barnette campaign to comment on her past statements.
During another show from the same time — which has also since been removed from her SoundCloud page — Barnette hosted Flo Hubbs and Greg Quinlan, two “ex-gays” who, according to a promotional plug, were asked on to “share the WHOLE TRUTH about the homosexual lifestyle, their tumultuous childhood beginnings & God’s Redemptive story for the both of them.” Quinlan was the former president of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX), and Hubbs was also involved with the organization, serving as a ministry chaplain. Both have claimed they were abused as children, which led or contributed to their identifying as “gay” for a period of time.
To accompany her radio show, Barnette also had a blog where she’d post about current issues. In a 2010 post, Barnette declared that the “homosexual AGENDA” seeks “domination,” stating that promoting homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle or denying its sinful nature makes it impossible for people who view the Bible as the infallible word of God to co-exist with those who promote LGBTQ rights, even if they can coexist with individuals who identify as LGBTQ.
“Make no mistake about it, homosexuality is a targeted group in the Bible, right along with cheats, drunkards, liars, foul-mouths, extortionists, robbers, and any other habitual sin (1 Corinthians 6:10),” Barnette wrote. “A major problem arises when one of these groups collectively starts engaging in political paybacks, intimidating the public into silence, and using the Law to legitimatize their way of life.”
In a 2013 post, she again reiterated her belief that America can’t coexist with the “homosexual agenda,” claiming that many Americans who hold socially conservative views do not understand that their religious and personal freedoms are threatened by the promotion of same-sex marriage and acceptance of LGBTQ identity, and that “the aggressive homosexual agenda is coming soon to a kitchen table near you.”
In a 2015 post, Barnette lamented the promotion of transgender identity, citing reality TV shows featuring Jazz Jennings and former Olympian and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner as examples of American culture “being hijacked from within,” warning of a “take-over” by the “homosexual agenda.”
Barnette’s recent surge in the polls has sent some more establishment Republicans — and even some Trump-backers — into a panic, with GOP-affiliated groups who believe she is “unelectable” in a general election lodging attacks, using leaks opposition research to paint her as out-of-step with the majority of Pennsylvanians’ views.
With U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey retiring, Pennsylvania is one of the few states where Democrats may actually have a shot of picking up GOP-held seats, despite the expected anti-Democratic tide of this year’s midterm elections. That’s why Oz has recently claimed that Barnette — who heretofore had only gained traction among the far-right activist base of the party — has not been properly vetted, and has pointed to her anti-Muslim and anti-gay statements as evidence of her out-of-the-mainstream views.
“We know so little,” Oz said of Barnette, according to The Associated Press. “Every time she answers a question, she raises more questions. But I think it’s disqualifying to make Islamophobic and homophobic comments, not just for the general election, but the Republican primary as well.”
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