McSally on LGBTQ rights

lgbt AZ


Jun 5, 2017

Rep. McSally has a score of 48 from the Human Rights Campaign. To put that in context, all the Democratic representatives from Arizona have a score of 100, and all the other Republican representatives have a score of zero. [1]


A representative from the HRC explained the mixed results to us this way: generally McSally will vote in favor of workplace protections for LGBTQ people, but then will vote for broad religious exemptions that undercut those same protections.


For example, in May of 2016, McSally was one of only 29 Republican members who voted for the Maloney amendment to prohibit LGBTQ discrimination by federal contractors in military construction.


But she also voted for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would allow anti-LGBTQ discrimination in all federal agencies.


That led to accusations of intolerance, and her spokesman defended her vote: “This claim is ridiculous. Martha has been battling discrimination and shattering stereotypes her whole life. The bill in question is a $610 billion defense bill that ensures our troops have the resources and training they need to meet the growing threats to our country. You have to be pretty desperate to politicize our national security and keeping Americans safe.”[2]


His statement was misleading. McSally didn’t just vote for the overall bill. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, she voted for the specific amendment to the bill which would permit anti-LGBTQ discrimination.




In 2012, on a survey she filled out for the Center for Arizona Policy, McSally indicated her support for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. She has also said many times that she believes marriage is between one man and one woman, and that same-sex marriage is a states’ rights issue.

Those are contradictory positions. One can’t simultaneously argue that a ban on same-sex marriage should be the law of the land, AND that states should be able to decide the issue for themselves.

In December of 2013, Jim Nintzel of “The Tucson Weekly” asked McSally whether she still supported the idea of the constitutional amendment. She would not answer directly, saying only that it was a hypothetical question, and that in any case she was “not planning on spending my political capital on that type of issue.”[3]

In the fall of 2014, a federal judge ruled that Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Arizona’s attorney general decided not to appeal the ruling, and McSally agreed that that was a “pragmatic and reasonable decision.”[4]


In June of 2015, when the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was protected by the Constitution, McSally reiterated that she felt it should be left up to the states to decide, but said she would respect the decision.[5]


Currently, callers to McSally’s office who ask where she stands on this issue are told, “I don’t know.” McSally Take a Stand has asked McSally to keep her staff informed of her positions on this and other issues so that they can provide correct responses to constituent questions. MTS has also asked McSally (through her District Director) to update her responses to the 2012 Center for Arizona Policy survey, so that her constituents will have an accurate understanding of her views. McSally has not responded to that request.



On the subject of protection for transgender children in schools, McSally has given different answers to different audiences.


At her February 2017 town hall in Sahuarita, the mother of a transgender child asked McSally what she would do to protect transgender children in light of President Trump’s rescission of Title IX protections for them. McSally said she approved of President Trump’s decision, because the extension of protections to transgender children represented “federal overreach” and the issue is “best managed at the state level.”


She went on to imply that other children needed protection from transgender children. The audience reacted angrily to that suggestion.


The issue came up again several weeks later, while McSally was talking to La Cienega High School students. She again said that she thought the issue should be resolved locally; she didn’t tell these young people, however, that she thought they might need protection from the transgender youth in their midst. Instead, she shifted topics to gay rights in general, saying, “Regardless of who you are and who you love, you should be given every opportunity in this country.” She then claimed that she had “fought for” gay rights in Congress.[6] It’s unclear what she meant by that.