If you’re a bigoted jerk in America you can trust that the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect sees you and isn’t afraid to call you out by name. On Aug, 21, @AnneFrankCenter Tweeted, “To hell – and he can’t get there fast enough – with Sam Clovis, @POTUS nominee at USDA who equates LGBT with pedophilia. Senate, vote no!”
In case you don’t know who Clovis is — and why should you? When’s the last time you knew U.S. Department of Agriculture nominees by name? — know this: he’s in no way qualified to work in any capacity as a scientist.
Yet he’s been tapped to be the undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics. He’s taught economics before and has a degree in public policy, but that’s not the same as being someone who understands and believes in science.
Trump was supposed to pick from a pool of “distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.” Instead, he picked Clovis, a conservative radio host who supported Trump during the 2016 campaign.
Clovis doesn’t believe in climate change. “I have enough of a science background to know when I’m being boofed,” he told Iowa Public Radio about the overwhelming scientific evidence that climate change is real.
Thankfully the USDA has nothing to do with agriculture, and agriculture has nothing to do with climate. Because it’d be a bummer if growing crops was tied to, like, weather and stuff.
There’s another sciencey issue that Clovis also struggles with: the homo.
According to CNN, between 2012 and 2014 (a.k.a. very recent history), Clovis expressed some really gross views on homosexuality.
Writing for The Iowa Republican (which touts itself as “News for Republicans, by Republicans”) in 2013, Clovis argued that homos didn’t deserve protection under the 14th amendment unless homosexuality was genetic which, Clovis argued, it isn’t. Therefore, those arguing for equal rights were actually asking for special protections for the “homosexual acts” they, of course, chose to do.
“Someone who engages in LGBT behavior — I don’t know what the science is on this, I think it’s still out — but as far as we know, LGBT behavior is a choice they make, Clovis said later during a campaign stop for a campaign he ultimately lost (but, you know, Trump doesn’t like losers). “So we’re being asked to provide Constitutional protections for behavior, a choice in behavior as opposed to a primary characteristic.”
Never mind the fact that a “primary characteristic,” like race for example, is hardly as clearly defined as Clovis seems to believe.(A recent rash of stories about white supremacists finding out via DNA testing that they aren’t genealogically “pure” comes to mind. “Their reactions range from challenging the basic math behind the tests to accusing Jewish conspirators of sabotage,” PBS reported.) I, for one, don’t feel a need to provide genetic proof that I deserve civil rights.
Anyway, Clovis argued that protecting lesbians and gays (or, as I guess he’d put it, lesbian and gay behavior choosers) would open the door to, well, anything.
“If we protect LGBT behavior, what other behaviors are we going to protect?” he asked. “Are we going to protect pedophilia?”
Reducing LGBTQ people solely to sex acts and comparing them to pedophiles is, of course, a favorite way to dehumanize. And once a group is seen as less than human vilifying them and denying them rights is much easier.
Clovis continues down his slippery slope, arguing that LGBT rights are basically a gateway drug: “What’s the logical extension of this? It can’t be that we’re going to protect LGBT and then we’ll pull up the ladder.”
Never mind the fact that the sky hasn’t fallen since marriage equality became the law of the land. Remember we were warned that people would be marrying goats and toasters? Hasn’t happened.
Clovis goes on to say, “We’re not thinking the consequences of these decisions through,” which is actually the perfect motto for the Trump administration. So maybe he does belong there, keeping in mind, however, that Trump and his entire administration doesn’t belong in power.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.