On Sunday night, pop singer Taylor Swift announced her opposition to Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), citing mostly LGBT issues. In these attacks, she misrepresented Blackburn’s positions, painting the Republican candidate for Senate as a bigot and a “hater.”
“I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love,” Swift wrote. The singer added that Blackburn’s “voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me.”
Then Taylor Swift launched into a summary of talking points published by the LGBT activist group GLAAD.
“She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples,” Swift declared.
Each of these claims misrepresented Blackburn’s positions.
1. Equal pay.
Indeed, Blackburn voted against the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bill that would have made it easier for women to file wage discrimination lawsuits against employers. This does not mean she “voted against equal pay,” however. The congresswoman has vocally defended the concept of equal pay, she just does not want Washington, D.C., to decide what that means.
“You know, I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be given a job because I was a female, I wanted it because I was the most well-qualified for the job,” the congresswoman said in 2013. “And making certain that companies are going to move forward in that vein, that is what women want.”
“They don’t want the decisions made in Washington. They want to be able to have the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions for themselves,” Blackburn declared.
Whatever you think about the gender pay gap, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is a bad idea, because it would eliminate the limitations period on legal claims. Limitations periods block lawsuits where defensive evidence is likely to be stale or expired and prevent a gaming of the system, the Heritage Foundation’s Andrew Grossman explained.
“Perversely, it could actually put women, minorities, and workers who are vocal about their rights at a disadvantage if employers attempt to reduce risk by hiring fewer individuals likely to file suit against them,” he noted.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberley Strassel denounced it as “a trial lawyer pay-out.”
Blackburn emphatically wants equal pay for equal work, but she sees through the rhetoric and refuses to support a bad bill.
2. “Discrimination against gay couples.”
Taylor Swift declared, “I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender [identity] is WRONG.” She ten claimed that Blackburn would “not be willing to fight for dignity” for LGBT Americans.
The singer revealed the crux of the issue against Blackburn later on in her statement, however. “She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples,” Taylor Swift wrote.
This is false, and a smear that obscures the important issues at stake. Many LGBT activists claim that religious business owners who refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings are in fact discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation.
This is false, as illustrated by the Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018). In that case, baker Jack Phillips refused to craft a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. But in the very same breath, he offered to sell the homosexual couple any cake he sells to anyone else.
Phillips and so many others like him are choosing not to endorse same-sex weddings because they believe marriage is between one man and one woman. Bakers, florists, photographers, and others will gladly serve LGBT people, they just won’t endorse an LGBT event by providing special cakes, floral arrangements, or other artistic efforts to celebrate the event. (By the way, Jack Phillips is under fire again, and the media is lying about his case.)
When The Tennesseean asked Blackburn if businesses “should be allowed to withhold their services to same-sex couples,” the congresswoman pledged to protect religious freedom.
“People of faith should be free to practice their beliefs as guaranteed by our Constitution,” she said. “They should never be punished for their beliefs based on conscience and their understanding of Scripture. In the Senate, I will continue to work to ensure our religious beliefs are protected.”
This defense of religious freedom echoed the acts of Jack Phillips and others — who gladly serve same-sex couples but refuse to create art celebrating a same-sex wedding as a wedding. The issue is not about discrimination, but about forcing religious people to celebrate something they disagree with.
3. The Violence Against Women Act.
Taylor Swift attacked Marsha Blackburn for voting against the reauthorization fo the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), “which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape.” This attack suggested that Blackburn’s vote shows that she opposes legislation to protect women in these horrific situations.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
“As a mother and grandmother, it is extremely important to me that VAWA is reauthorized in order to ensure that victims of violence have access to the care they need and the justice they deserve. Many of the women in Congress, like me, have worked in their own states to establish domestic violence and child advocacy centers,” Blackburn declared in a statement in 2012, supporting a reauthorization of VAWA.
Blackburn only opposed the reauthorization of VAWA in 2013, when the bill was expanded to include special clauses for LGBT people, Native Americans, and illegal immigrants.
“When you start to make this about other things it becomes an ‘against violence act,’ and not a targeted focus act,” Blackburn explained. “I didn’t like the way it was expanded to include other different groups.”
“What you need is something that is focused specifically to help the shelters and to help out law enforcement, who is trying to work with the crimes that have been committed against women and helping them to stand up,” the congresswoman added.
In other words, Blackburn supports the Violence Against Women Act. Indeed, she voted to reauthorize it — before it became expanded beyond recognition. (By the way, the newer version counts as “women” men who identify as women. Lesbians have increasingly argued that this transgender movement involves “erasing” women, because it opens women’s spaces to biological men, arguably fostering violence against women. Last year, a 5-year-old boy allegedly abused a 5-year-old girl in a girl’s restroom, taking advantage of a transgender policy.)
Even as Taylor Swift announced her opposition to Marsha Blackburn, a new CBS poll found the congresswoman 8 points ahead of her Democratic challenger, former governor Phil Bredesen.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), an organization whose political action committee endorsed Blackburn in June, predicted that Taylor Swift’s attack will have little political impact.
“Entertainers have become so out of step with most Americans that pronouncements like Swift’s have little impact,” Perkins said. “Most people who pay entertainers do so to be entertained.”
“While ‘shut up and sing’ is not a proper response to celebrity commentary — they are as protected by the First Amendment as the rest of us — celebrities like Taylor Swift shouldn’t act surprised when a barely coherent, fact-starved partisan rant results in responsive commentary,” Greg Scott, media director at the Heritage Foundation, told PJ Media in a statement.
Taylor Swift’s false attacks on Blackburn will get headlines and set the chattering classes a-chatter. But they won’t likely move the needle in the Tennessee governor’s race. Even so, it is disappointing for Taylor Swift — long known for her silence on political issues — to jump headlong into a political battle with false attacks.
Here’s hoping Marsha Blackburn will resist the temptation to inflame the “Bad Blood,” choosing instead to “Shake It Off.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.