In a surprising turn of events, three Republican Wisconsin state legislators, namely Reps. John Macco, Nate Gustafson, and Joy Goeben, made an appearance at a rally organized by the far-right extremist group, Gays Against Groomers, held at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. The event, part of the group’s “Worldwide Stop the War on Children Rally,” drew attention for its hateful signage and controversial rhetoric.
The signs displayed at the rally falsely accused transgender individuals and LGBTQ activists of coordinated child abuse, while also advocating for the passage of Assembly Bill 465, which seeks to ban gender-affirming care for minors. Despite the bill passing both state legislative chambers earlier in the month, Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, has vowed to veto AB 465 along with other anti-trans bills.
Extremist Label and Backlash
Gays Against Groomers, registered as a non-profit organization in Wisconsin by Jaimee Michell, has faced significant backlash for its controversial stance. The group has been designated an extremist hate group by the Anti-Defamation League, associating them with other extremist factions such as Moms for Liberty and the Proud Boys. The Southern Poverty Law Center has also labeled Gays Against Groomers as “one of the most notable propagators of anti-trans rhetoric.”
Escalating Controversy and Legal Actions
The controversy surrounding Gays Against Groomers escalated further when the Pulaski Community School District in Wisconsin obtained a temporary restraining order against Jose “Rocky” Rodriguez, the leader of the group’s Wisconsin chapter. This legal action followed false accusations made by a far-right social media account, Libs of TikTok, claiming that a drag performer and teacher exposed students to “graphic sexualized content.” The district’s investigation subsequently debunked these allegations.
On October 13, a Brown County Circuit Court commissioner granted the Pulaski School District’s request for a four-year restraining order against Rodriguez. This legal move came after Rodriguez’s confrontation with the district in September when he posted a threatening video on TikTok against a staff member, the district, and the school board. Despite later downplaying his statements as “internet lingo,” the district viewed them as attempts to incite intimidation.
Political Affiliations and Instagram Suspension
Jaimee Michell, known for her earlier support of former President Donald Trump, has recently aligned herself with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. This alignment caused a significant rift within Gays Against Groomers and led to the resignation of co-founder David Leatherwood. The division emerged following a homophobic video posted by DeSantis, which did not affect Michell’s support for the governor.
Further controversy arose when Gays Against Groomers was temporarily suspended from Instagram, only to be reinstated later without an explanation from Meta, Instagram’s parent company. These developments have shed light on the association of political figures with extremist groups, emphasizing the broader political endorsement of such ideologies, especially in the context of contentious legislative proposals like AB 465.