Lesbian war veteran turned Democratic challenger targeted with vile anti-trans Republican adverts

Gina Ortiz Jones, the candidate hoping to flip Texas' 23rd Congressional District

Panicked Republicans in Texas are targeting Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones with anti-trans attack ads.

As polls continue to predict a swing towards the Democrats on November 3 that could imperil Republicans across the US, the GOP is panicking in once-solid states like Texas.

The party has thrown major resources into shoring up support, with one effort targeting Gina Ortiz Jones — the candidate hoping to flip Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, which the Republicans held by less than a thousand votes in 2018.

Taking aim at the lesbian military veteran, an ad from the National Republican Campaign Committee claims: “Gina Jones doesn’t care about Texas… [she] supported closing military bases, putting patriots out of work, yet Jones would divert military money to pay for transgender reassignment surgeries. Gina Jones, too liberal for Texas.”

A website run by the NRRC furthers the dog-whistle attacks on Ortiz Jones, featuring a photo of the candidate with her same-sex partner, while insisting: “The contrast between Tony Gonzales and Gina Jones couldn’t be clearer.”

A briefing on the attack site encourages Republican door-knockers to tell voters that “Jones and her female partner lived and worked near Washington DC, not Texas”.

In reality, Jones grew up in San Antonio, Texas, leaving to enrol in the military. After her deployment to Iraq, she moved to DC to work in intelligence and public service for the federal government, before returning to her family home in San Antonio in 2017.

The website also repeats the suggestion that Ortiz Jones “supported using taxpayer money to pay for gender reassignment surgery” — an attack that, again, falsifies her record.

Ortiz Jones had criticised her 2018 Republican opponent for backing an attempt to remove transition-related care from the healthcare benefits available to serving military personnel, before Donald Trump imposed the ban on trans people serving in the armed forces.

Of note, both the TV adverts and website refer to Ortiz Jones as “Gina Jones” throughout. The party has repeatedly sought to make an issue of the candidate’s name previously, suggesting she adopts the name Ortiz — the last name of her Filipino mother who raised her — to “pander” for votes.

Gina Ortiz Jones, candidate for Texas' 23rd Congressional district

Gina Ortiz Jones, candidate for Texas’ 23rd Congressional district (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call).

Homophobia and transphobia ‘are the Republican weapon of choice’ in 2020, activists say.

LGBTQ Victory Fund, which works to support trailblazing candidates, decried the attack. Its president Annise Parker said: “The national fundraising arm of the Republican Party has declared war on LGBTQ candidates this election cycle – and homophobia and transphobia are their weapon of choice.

“It is despicable that Republicans would attack a military veteran simply because she believes the trans soldiers who risked their lives beside her deserve fair treatment when they return home.

“Their appeals to bigotry – especially when aimed at LGBTQ people who fought for America – is the ultimate evidence that winning elections is more important to them than the values most Americans hold.”

Parker added: “The NRCC leadership should think beyond November and recognize they are alienating an entire generation of LGBTQ people and their allies.

“The candidates refusing to denounce the homophobic and transphobic attack ads launched in their name must know their silence is as destructive as the ads themselves.

“That they accept bigotry for a perceived political gain is a reflection on their character and will not be forgotten.”