Last week, I criticized Attorney General Derek Schmidt for committing Kansas to opposing new Department of Agriculture rules that prohibit discrimination against LGBT individuals in the distribution of federal food.
And now along comes U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall saying “Derek, hold my beer.”
Our senator is escalating anti-gay politics to the point of actually toying with the idea of blocking school lunch funding across the country unless the USDA anti-discrimination policy is repealed.
In an interview with Politico, Marshall confirmed he is “contemplating” filing a Senate objection to a bill to extend school-lunch funding.
An objection by a single senator would delay the measure’s passage until after school lunch funding expires at the end of the month.
That’s crazy talk.
The stated reason for conservative opposition to the USDA anti-discrimination rule is a fake-news charge that the Biden Administration wants to hold lunches hostage to force schools to allow transgender students who are biologically male to play girls’ sports and use the girls’ bathroom.
So it’s beyond ironic that the actual hostage takers in this scenario are Marshall, and maybe a handful of other right-wing senators, who really are considering blocking school lunch funding to preserve the right to discriminate against LGBT individuals who are in need of food.
Put another way, Marshall’s considering blocking school lunch funding to prevent the Biden administration from blocking school lunch funding. It doesn’t make any sense.
Marshall told Politico: “I’m just afraid that schools in Kansas won’t have school lunches because of this (Biden) administration’s radical view on transgender issues.”
Apparently, it’s somehow OK if schools in Kansas don’t have school lunches because of Marshall’s radical view on transgender issues.
If Joe Biden were doing what the right wing accuses him of, I’d be the first to stand up and say “That’s a hard no.”
So that’s what I’m saying to Roger Marshall today. Emphatically.
The anti-discrimination policy he’s so worked up about has nothing to do with who can play which sport or who can use which toilets.
It simply states that schools, state agencies and food banks that provide federally subsidized food to the needy can’t deny service to gay and transgender individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Specifically, it requires distributors of federal food to investigate complaints of discrimination against LGBT individuals exactly as they already do if someone claims they’ve been discriminated against over their race or religion. That, and the agencies have to replace their current anti-discrimination poster with an updated one.
It’s not hard to comply with and it’s vitally important.
A 2021 census report found that LGBT adults are nearly twice as likely to experience food insecurity as straight people. It shows they’ve lost ground since a pre-pandemic UCLA research report in 2016 found that LGBT people were 62% more likely to not have enough to eat.
The only plausible reason for a politician to even consider blocking the USDA policy would be to curry favor with those voters who hate homosexuals and transsexuals and anyone else who’s unwilling to participate in persecuting them.
To even consider blocking school lunches to poor kids to appeal to that group is reprehensible.
It’s the 21st Century. The days of “We don’t serve your kind here” should be far in our government’s and our society’s rear-view mirror.
But as our senator demonstrates, they’re not.
To prevent further damage to the reputation and sanity of our state, it’s time for Marshall to stand down and to clearly and unequivocally announce that that’s he’s not going to block continued funding of school lunches — and to quit picking on gay and transgender people for political profit.