LGBTQ Victory Fund, the national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office, is denouncing a series of robotexts emphasizing the sexual orientation of Rashaun Kemp, a Democratic candidate for state representative in Georgia.
The robotexts, which were sent to thousands of voters within the district, showed a screenshot of a Facebook post that includes a picture of Kemp and his husband kissing on their wedding day.
The texts say: “It’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month and we are winning thanks to voters like you! I will make it my business to push the movement forward. I need you to advance the PRIDE agenda! RaShaun Kemp for Georgia! #pride.”
Kemp is facing off against State Rep. Roger Bruce in a Democratic primary runoff scheduled for June 21.
The texts contain no disclaimer identifying the source or entity they were issued on behalf of, as required by law when attack ads are aired through regular channels (such as TV or radio).
Similar robotexts have been used against them in other states ahead of primary elections in order to mislead voters. For example, in Florida last year, robotexts were sent to voters highlighting State Sen. Shevrin Jones’ (D-West Park) sexual orientation and his inability, despite surviving COVID-19, to donate plasma that might help others suffering from the disease.
Jones and other gay and bisexual men, are currently prohibited from donating blood or plasma if they’ve had sexual contact in the past three months — even if they’re involved in committed, monogamous relationships.
The anti-Jones robotexts eventually backfired, resulting in Jones winning the Democratic primary and the general election.
The source of the text message campaign in the Georgia runoff is unknown, but it is clear that the robotexts attempt to sensationalize Kemp’s sexual orientation and his support for LGBTQ issues. Critics of the robotexts say they are intended to mislead voters into believing that they are coming from the Kemp campaign, and that he will prioritize LGBTQ issues over voters’ other concerns.
LGBTQ Victory Fund has called on the Bruce campaign to condemn the robotexts as an underhanded political tactic that seeks to exploit primary voters’ homophobic feelings by showing Kemp and his husband kissing.
“Rashaun Kemp is a proud gay man who is open with constituents about his personal life and firm in his policy positions,” Annise Parker, the president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. “Yet those opposing his election are desperate and are now sending mass texts to voters made to appear as if they are from Rashaun’s campaign.
“It is no accident the robotexts are emphasizing his sexual orientation. It is a tactic directly from the National Republican Congressional Committee playbook and aims to distract voters from his strong qualifications and district-focused policy agenda,” Parker added. “These text messages are pathetic dog whistle attacks, and they will backfire.
“Rep. Bruce must condemn these attacks publicly, reaffirm his commitment to LGBTQ equality and pledge to help lead the fight against the anti-trans bills percolating in the Georgia legislature,” Parker concluded. “We also urge media outlets and Georgia officials to investigate who is responsible for what appears to be illegal campaign activity and that the source is known to voters before the runoff on the 21st.”
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