LGBT Republican lawmaker defects to Democrats because of Donald Trump

One of the Republican Party’s few out lawmakers has announced that she is becoming a Democrat.

At a press conference at the legislature on Monday, bisexual politician Meagan Simonaire announced she is quitting the Republican party.

Simonaire has sat in the Maryland House of Delegates as a Republican since her election in 2015, but the lawmaker explained she is becoming a Democrat because of the Trump administration’s record of attacking minority groups.

She explained: “I am leaving the Republican Party today because it is important for me to stand with a party that is fighting for equality for all Americans. Minorities, the LGBTQ community, victims of gun violence, immigrants, women, Americans of all faiths, and communities being affected by climate change.

“President Trump regularly attacks minorities, women and anyone who does not agree with him. I can no longer remain a part of a party that condones his rhetoric. It is reprehensible.”

Simonaire had come out as bi in April, when she broke with many of her Republican colleagues to express support for a bill to ban gay ‘cure’ therapy.

Meagan Simonaire, centre, with her new Democratic colleagues. (Maryland Democratic Party)

Her own father, Republican state Senator Bryan W. Simonaire, opposed the bill.

In her April speech to the House of Delegates, Simonaire said her family had suggested conversion therapy when she came out to them.

Speaking about her own experiences in the third person, she said: “They weren’t ever hateful… but were fully convinced that she was living in sin and desperately wanted to get her the ‘help she needed.’

“While she never actually had to endure conversion therapy, the pain of having her good-intentioned parents convinced of its ability to ‘fix her’ was enough to cause significant pain, self-loathing and deep depression. There were times where she seemingly couldn’t stop the tears from falling.”

Welcoming the delegate’s defection this week, out Democrat Bonnie Cullison said that her speech had been “one of the bravest moments I have ever witnessed in the legislature,” praising her “personal courage.”

Simonaire had been the only out LGBT+ Republican in office in Maryland, and one of just a handful of Republicans nationally who are open about being LGBT+.

The bill outlawing conversion therapy was signed by the state’s Governor Larry Hogan in May.

It was the 11th state to pass a law on the issue, though the number has since climbed to 14.

Democrats have filed legislation in the US Senate to ban conversion therapy, but it has not progressed as the law continues to face opposition from the GOP.

Sen. Cory Booker (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

The federal bill is backed by Democratic Senators Patty Murray of Washington and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Booker said: “So-called ‘conversion therapy’ isn’t therapy at all. It’s a tortuous, fraudulent practice that has been repeatedly condemned by medical professionals and has no place in our country.”