The anti-gay credentials of Ken Calvert, Republican from California’s 41st District, are well established. LGBTQ outlet The Advocate points to a scorecard from the Human Rights Campaign giving him a dismal zero rating for his stances. The Los Angeles Times reports that one of Calvert’s targets included then-candidate Mark Takano, who was outed by an ally of Calvert. Takano would later win office in a neighboring district, becoming the first openly gay person of Asian descent in Congress.
Calvert is a garbage person. Not one of our nation’s great sanitation workers, but an actual garbage person who’s held steadfastly onto his terrible beliefs. But that’s suddenly changing, not because Calvert is changing, but because his district is due to redistricting. It’s not only more liberal, it now includes the very beautiful, very sunny, and very gay city of Palm Springs, along with nearby Cathedral City. Did we also mention that Will Rollins, Calvert’s Democratic opponent, is an openly gay man?
“Despite his previous opposition, the Republican says, he believes the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage across the nation should not be overturned,” The Los Angeles Times continued. “‘It wasn’t always my position,’ Calvert said. ‘It’s a different country than it was 30 years ago.’” Or a different district. Calvert also now insists that he’s “never had any animosity to the gay community,” saying in the report that he “came out of the restaurant business, for goodness’ sake.”
Now, as an openly gay Californian myself, I was honestly curious where this was going. Is there something … gay about restaurants? Is it brunch? Is it the bottomless mimosas at brunch? Is there something gay about eating that I’ve missed all these years? “A lot of people who worked with me were gay,” Calvert explained. Oh, some of your coworkers were gay. Not even your favorite coworkers, just that some of your coworkers from when you worked at your family business more than 40 years ago (per Wikipedia) happened to be gay. Note that he doesn’t say they were great or wonderful or anything. Just that they were gay. I know I feel special.
“Whether it’s principle or opportunism, Calvert’s change of heart seems a necessary shift in a race that has grown far more competitive as a result of the redrawing of California’s congressional boundaries,” The Los Angeles Times continued. The report said that Calvert has managed to convince the treasurer of the local Log Cabin Republicans of Coachella Valley, the national chapter of which embarrassingly endorsed the insurrectionist president for reelection despite his many anti-LGBTQ policies. No word if this clown car of an organization remains firmly in support of Republicans, even after those Republicans have called them groomers and made clear they’re coming for their civil rights.
Calvert himself has been endorsed by the insurrectionist president, and was among Republicans who voted to overturn the results of that election in his favor. But he’s changed now, honest.
Hopefully the district’s voters don’t fall for Calvert’s snake oil. He still maintains a fundraising and polling advantage over Rollins, The Los Angeles Times said. While the new district is more liberal than before, “[t]he new district retained 7 out of 10 voters from his current district, and its largest city is Calvert’s hometown of Corona.” Equality California, an LGBTQ rights organization in the state, in February endorsed Rollins to replace the congressman. Rollins is a former U.S. assistant attorney who has over his career prosecuted two particularly despicable groups of people: Jan. 6 insurrectionists, and crooks who target senior citizens.
“Unlike Congressman Calvert, Will is focused on improving the lives of California families, protecting our national security and achieving full, lived equality for all LGBTQ+ people,” said Executive Director of Equality California Tony Hoang. “We’re thrilled to support his campaign and look forward to working with him in Congress. And on a personal note, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect ending to Calvert’s career than being beaten by an openly gay candidate.”
“I am honored to have the support of Equality California in my bid to unseat one of the most anti-LGBTQ+ congressmen in the House,” Rollins said in the statement. “The Inland Empire and Coachella Valley deserve a representative who they know will stand up for them on the issues that matter most: lowering costs on working families, improving access to affordable healthcare, protecting human rights, and combating the devastating effects of climate change on our communities.”