According to Dave Williams, chair of the state Republican Party and a candidate for the conservative 5th Congressional District (CD5), his anti-LGBTQ agenda was encouraged by Jesus Christ himself.


There is just one little problem with Williams’s claims: Jesus as presented in the Bible never said a word directly about gay or transgender issues, which is why Williams has not and cannot quote Jesus to endorse his bigotry.

Like the Colorado Ku Klux Klan before him, Williams couches his casual bigotry in the language of religion in an attempt to stir up other religious people to scapegoat and demonize minority groups. Also, like the KKK, Williams pours gasoline on a moral panic in part to gain political power. Williams’ string of anti-LGBTQ statements is a transparent attempt to energize his base and gain media attention headed into the primary tally. Colorado’s primary election is June 25; mail ballots were sent earlier in the month.

To be clear, even if, contrary to fact, Williams could come up with a clear, authentic quote by Jesus condemning gay or transgender people, that should have zero effect on public policy. We live in a pluralistic, broadly liberal society with a First Amendment that protects everyone’s religious freedom while banning government establishment of any religion. We do not and should not live in a theocracy.

For comparison, even though Leviticus 20 calls for the execution of “witches,” adulterers, and men who have gay sex, our laws properly forbid rather than promote violence against those people.

Williams follows the KKK’s example

As historian Robert Alan Goldberg writes, the Colorado Klan “clothed [itself] in the symbols of Protestantism” as it warned “the traditional code of morality was . . . under attack.” The Klan, Goldberg writes, saw “evidence of moral laxity” everywhere and vowed “to restore decency and decorum to their communities.”

“The Catholics bore the brunt of Klan hatred” in the 1920s, Goldberg reviews. Catholics, according to the Klan, promoted a “paganistic creed,” placed “their allegiance to the pope above their loyalty to the United States,” and threatened to infiltrate the government, Goldberg notes. 

The Klan endlessly spread bogus conspiracy theories about Catholics, Goldberg writes: “Rumors of papal intrigue spread all over the state,” and “Klan newspapers were filled with articles detailing priestly corruption and convent horrors.” And, said the Klan, Catholics threatened to subvert the public schools and use them to convert children to Catholicism “by placing Catholics on the school boards and employing them as teachers.”

Of course, the Klan had plenty of hatred left over for Jews, Black people, and immigrants.

The opening article of the Boulder-based Klan newspaper Rocky Mountain American, promoting as its central creed “the tenets of the Christian religion,” denied that “the Catholic, Jewish, and negro questions” aptly represented “Klanism.” Instead, the article railed against “an alarming loosening of all the restraints upon public and private conduct.” The Klan, states the article, fought against “the immorality that permeates the government, the churches, the social and domestic life.” Klansmen, the paper emphasized elsewhere, should strive to be “one hundred percent Christians.”

We can identify four major elements of Klan ideology: claims of their own religious purity, exaggerated claims of moral and religious decay elsewhere in society, demonization of minority groups to blame them for that alleged decay, and conspiracy mongering about those groups to sow hatred and mobilize action. Although they target LGBTQ people rather than Catholics, Williams and his allies follow Klan tactics precisely.

The State GOP’s Trans Panic

An official Colorado Republican email of May 21 is titled “Will You Stand for Free Speech and Children?” and signed by Darcy Schoening, “Director of Special Initiatives” for the party. Schoening warns of “LGBTQ indoctrination in public schools” and claims “progressive Democrats . . . want to turn more kids trans by requiring teachers to use ‘pronouns’ that do not make any sense and cause gender confusion.” The threat is so severe, claims Schoening, that “all Colorado parents should be aiming to remove their kids from public education.”


A specific problem, claims Schoening, is House Bill 1039, which requires public school staff to “address a student by the student’s chosen name” to “reflect the student’s gender identity.” The bill does not, contrary to Schoening’s assertion, require “teachers to use ‘pronouns'” pertaining to gender.

Of course, the bill’s sponsors do not intend to “turn more kids trans” but merely to recognize that some children are transgender and to ensure their respectful treatment by school officials.

We can argue about whether schools should be required to notify parents of a student’s “chosen name” or use that name without the parent’s permission. I personally think schools generally should defer to parents in such matters, so I think the bill overreaches. I nevertheless respect the effort to make transgender children feel welcome in schools. People can differ on the difficult policy questions while recognizing Schoening’s rhetoric as fearmongering.

Schoening suggests that any child who claims to be transgender is not really transgender but is only saying that because some corrupt adult has confused the child. Schoening claims that gender-matching pronouns — for example, calling a transgender girl (biologically male) “she”—”do not make any sense and cause gender confusion.” Schoening claims that two of the bill’s sponsors “do not know their own genders,” thereby denying their self-identified gender. Presumably she refers to Brianna Titone, the state’s first and so far only transgender legislator, and Stephanie Vigil, who “is gender fluid and uses she/they pronouns,” as Colorado Politics reports.

To Schoening, declaring to be transgender is a “fetish,” and a child would only identify as transgender out of anger or because “all of his friends are doing it” or because of adult “indoctrination.” Schoening is proudly trans-exclusionary, in that she denies that there is such a thing as an authentically transgender person or gender that does not match biological anatomy.

The bill is even more nefarious, says Schoening: “The goal here is clear; the Colorado legislature seeks to break down the family unit while convincing kids that government knows best.” Schoening’s remarks are hysterical nonsense. The obvious goal of the bill is to ensure that transgender children are treated respectfully by school staff.

Schoening also repeats a substantially false story about alleged events at a charter school. At the school in question, Schoening claims, “parents were told by the Principal & Board in March that their third-grade girls would be continuously forced to use the restroom with a grown male teacher who calls himself ‘Ms. Sparks’ and tells kids they can be ‘any gender they want.’ The Colorado government is preying on our children and forcing their safety and educational growth to play second fiddle to the feelings of trans males who are pushing the indoctrination of our children into harmful sexual situations … this must stop.”

Schoening’s salacious nonsense notwithstanding, the principal said, “We cannot confirm the rumor that the substitute used the restroom while at [the school], much less a restroom that children use while at school. To be clear, there was not a report that anything happened with the substitute and children while in the restroom.”

Reporting by Suzie Glassman indicates that there was a substitute teacher at the school who went by “Ms. Sparks” and that, when a student asked the teacher why the teacher appeared to be a boy with a female name, the teacher said something along the lines of “you can be whatever you want to be” (as Glassman paraphrases a board member of the school).

Schoening uses this rumor of a transgender teacher using a school bathroom to gin up fear toward and hatred of transgender people. Schoening writes, “At an unprecedented time when Colorado’s woke laws are coming to fruition, our women and children are at grave risk of predatory males violating their rights.” Schoening also claims, in the same paragraph, that “trans males . . . are pushing the indoctrination of our children into harmful sexual situations.”

Schoening, despite her cruel and defamatory remarks, has zero evidence that the substitute teacher in question is “predatory” or has ever put any child in a “harmful sexual situation.” Schoening’s remarks are pure hate-mongering.

Bigoted hysteria notwithstanding, trans people are not coming for your women or your children. Last year, criminologists Henry Fradella and Alexis Rowland pointed out, “A variety of myths, false narratives, bad science, misconceptions and outright misrepresentations undergird anti-trans laws. The reality, however, is that trans-exclusionary laws do not protect cisgender women and girls from harassment or violence. Rather, they result in dramatic increases in violent victimization for transgender and gender-nonconforming adults and children.”

We do catch a glimpse of part of the GOP’s motivation near the bottom of Schoening’s email, with the line, “Donate to Save Colorado Kids.”

The GOP’s Anti-LGBTQ Bigotry

On June 3, Dave Williams sent out a state GOP email under the title, “God Hates Pride.” That same day, as a follow-up, the Colorado Republican Party posted to Twitter (X), “Burn all the Pride flags this June.” Then, on June 10, Williams sent a follow-up email titled, “No to Pride, Yes to Jesus.”

The June 3 email begins with a reference to a sermon by Mark Driscoll, an anti-LGBTQ pastor. The graphic link shows a figure who appears to be Jesus with “laser eyes” and the phrase, “God Hates Flags,” a clear reference to a Westboro Baptist Church smear against gay people. Beneath the image is a quote from Driscoll that pride month “is not progress” but “darkness.” The GOP email urges readers, “Watch Pastor Mark Driscoll’s full sermon.”

Williams begins his text, “The month of June has arrived and, once again, the godless groomers in our society want to attack what is decent, holy, and righteous so they can ultimately harm our children.” Williams claims that Pride month is an “evil that is trying to indoctrinate children, undermine parents, and harm families.” Williams writes, “We can protect our children and future . . . but only if you get involved and defend the most vulnerable in our society from these woke creeps.”

His message is classic scapegoating. In fact, “the most vulnerable in our society” include the LGBTQ people against whom Williams is riling up bigoted hatred.

Criminals, whether directly inspired by Williams’s message or merely fellow travelers, have stolen Pride flags in the Denver metro area. Fox 31 reports, “The Arvada Police Department said they’re investigating at least six cases of Pride flags being stolen from the front of homes in northwest Arvada. Officers believe at least three suspects are involved.” Thieves also stole a pride flag in Lakewood.

Although some people on social media mischaracterized the remarks of Attorney General Phil Weiser, he clearly and correctly said that burning a Pride flag in the context of violating others’ rights can be a crime. Weiser said, “Any attack on a member of the LGBTQ community is disgusting. If such actions, including burning Pride flags, take the form of vandalizing property, harassing individuals, or causing physical harm to others, they can even be a crime.” Of course, burning one’s own Pride flag, although stupid, normally is legally permissible (as is burning the American flag).

In his June 10 email, Williams claimed, “The Pride Month agenda is in full swing and its goals are to attack parental rights, harm children, and silence any vocal opposition to it. Again, we make no apologies for standing against those who would groom or confuse children into transgender procedures that would mutilate and chemically castrate them.” Williams characterizes Pride Month as an “evil that is trying to indoctrinate children, undermine parents, and harm families.”

Notice here that Williams indicts every gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender person as part of this alleged plot. This is not a new development for Williams. Back in 2009, the Gazette reported, Williams was impeached as student president by the student body government for “refusing to sign off on a request from Spectrum [an LGBT club] for $2,100 in student activity fees to fund a ‘coming out day’ observance. Williams cited his beliefs and convictions as the reason.” Brody Levesque reports for the LGBTQ publication Blade: “According to Republican sources, Williams believes that homosexuality is the biggest problem in society today,” and when in school he attempted to “purge gay sympathizers from the College Republicans.” He continues this sort of tactic today; on June 14, he sent a GOP email shaming Jefferson County Chair Nancy Pallozzi over her attempts to have Williams removed as state chair because of his anti-LGBTQ bigotry.

Anti-LGBTQ activists such as Williams often intentionally confuse two meanings of “groomer,” one to mean “prepare children for sexual exploitation,” another to mean something like “encourage children to be gay or transgender.” Williams intentionally smears all LGBTQ people as “groomers” to paint them as sexual predators.

Just based on statistics, we know that some gay and transgender people have sexually abused children. LGBTQ people are people, and some fraction of every large group of people commit crimes. But LGBTQ people sexually grooming children, contrary to QAnon-related conspiracy mongering, is not a widespread problem. The proper response by government to the sexual exploitation of children, no matter who the perpetrator, is to bring the specific perpetrators to justice.

Notably, in his emails, Williams does not give a single example of an LGBTQ person sexually abusing a child. That is not to say that no such cases exist, but they are not widespread. Clearly, Williams is engaged in a campaign of hate-mongering and demonization, not one of fact-finding and justice.

Meanwhile, as Williams conspiracy mongers about the alleged sexual grooming of children by LGBTQ people, he ignores the actual sexual grooming of children by various religious figures in Colorado.

When I Googled “transgender child sexual abuse Colorado” under news, the top results did not come up with a single case. (Granted, that could have something to do with reporting and search algorithms.) However, when I Googled “church child sexual abuse colorado,” the feed was immediately filled with examples.

The first story listed is one by Colorado Public Radio about a bill that would have extended the time for victims of sexual abuse “to sue perpetrators and the organizations that employed them.” Notably, the Colorado Catholic Conference opposed the bill, because the Catholic Church was at risk of getting sued more for sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Sexual grooming of children within Colorado Catholic churches has been a real problem. CPR reported in 2019, “More than 160 Colorado children were sexually victimized by 43 priests over 70 years—and Colorado’s three Roman Catholic dioceses spent decades trying to cover up that abuse, according to a special report released by the Colorado Attorney General’s office.” We can express concern about these factual cases of sexual grooming without demonizing all Catholics. Notably, Republicans killed the measure to expand sex assault suits. If Williams treated his fellow Republicans the way he treats all LGBTQ people, he’d blast them for coddling groomers. I personally think Republicans had reasonable concerns about time limits and after-the-fact legal changes.

Following are additional headlines in the first page of search results: “Former youth pastor arrested for sexual assault.” “Church leader accused of child sexual assault.” “Colorado woman accused of sexually assaulting children while volunteering at church.” “Greeley church helper faces up to 66 years in prison for sex assaults on 3 girls.” “Former Fort Collins youth pastor accused of sexual assault of children over decades.” Note that in some cases stories pertain to allegations and not legal outcomes; people are presumed innocent.

If Williams applied the same absurd standards to Christians that he applies to LGBTQ people, he would condemn all Christians as groomers and call for the burning of Christian icons. But Williams is a hypocrite and a bigot.

The proper conclusion to draw from the fact that some Christians sexually abuse children is not that all Christians are evil or suspect, as Williams’s “logic” would imply if consistently applied, but that some Christians, just like some members of every large group, commit crimes. (We can talk about whether the heightened status of religious authority figures in some churches contributes to sexual exploitation.)

Williams Clothes His Bigotry in Religious Rhetoric

Williams frequently invokes the name of Jesus to justify his anti-LGBTQ campaign. He also judges the religious fidelity of others. In both of his anti-pride emails, Williams alleges that 9News reporter Kyle Clark, who has reported critically on Williams, is “intolerant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Clark, a Christian, has received numerous death threats over the years, and Williams knows full well that casting Clark as an enemy of Jesus will rile up certain members of his base. As with his demonization of LGBTQ people and call to burn all pride flags, Williams seems not to care if his dangerous rhetoric provokes others to violence.

In his June 10 GOP email, Williams promotes a clip of his, taken from a debate with primary opponent Jeff Crank, in which Williams proclaims himself a warrior for Jesus and even compares himself to Jesus, saying he might get “crucified.” The clip is titled, “Down with Pride. No Apologies for Jesus Christ!” Here is what Williams says during that clip:

Again, I do not care what some pride organizers think about what we’re doing. What I care about is protecting our children, what I care about is advancing Biblical principles, and what I care about is what the Lord has to say. If that costs me this election, if that costs me everything, so be it, because my reward isn’t here. I don’t know about Jeff, I’m not looking at June of 2024, I’m looking for eternity. That’s where I’m headed, and if I do everything right, and I get crucified for it, so be it, because I’m not greater than my master, Jesus Christ.


On June 14, Williams took his strange evangelical message onto the streaming show of Joe Oltmann. Oltmann, who conspiracy mongers about the presidential election and who also wears his religion on his sleeve, previously predicted, “Pretty soon we’ll have gallows being built all over the country” to hang “traitors.” He “joked” that Colorado’s governor Jared Polis should be executed. Decent Republican Party officials would cast out and condemn Oltmann, not appear on his streaming program.

When Oltmann asked Williams why some Republicans back Williams’s primary challenger, Williams replied, “I think it just shows you that they care more about the opinions of man than they do God.” Oltmann concludes his interview with an endorsement of Williams and a prayer in which he asks for supernatural intervention in the election on behalf of Williams and asks God to “expose” those who oppose Williams politically. Oltmann also asks God to urge his listeners to “restore [God] to our community, to our country, for our every way of life.”

Williams also appeared on Jeff Hunt’s KNUS radio program on June 14. Earlier this year Hunt left his position as director of the Centennial Institute of Colorado Christian University. Hunt says, “They went after you on Pride. . . . You may not have liked the tone of Dave Williams’s email, but he didn’t break with the party platform. The party platform for the national Republican Party is to stand with traditional marriage” (i.e., against gay marriage). Williams, after demonizing all LGBTQ people, complains about “cancel culture” coming after him.

What the Bible says about LGBTQ issues

Obviously, not every Christian agrees with Williams’s claims about Jesus’s stance on LGBTQ issues. “Members of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Colorado Springs enthusiastically chanted ‘God Loves Pride,’ as they marched as a group in [a recent] Pride parade,” the Gazette reports. Various Christian denominations support LGBTQ people. In a Gallup poll last year, 71 percent of U.S. respondents supported gay marriage, while 49 percent of Republicans did and 41% of weekly church-goers did.

True, some Biblical passages seem to clearly condemn gay sex. Leviticus 18:22 states (using the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition), “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Leviticus 20:13 states, ” If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their bloodguilt is upon them.”

In the New Testament, Paul also seems to condemn homosexuality. In the first chapter of Romans, Paul writes that some people turned away from God and worshipped idols. He writes (versus 26 and 27), “For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. Their females exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the males, giving up natural intercourse with females, were consumed with their passionate desires for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.” In 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 Paul issues a general warning against sexual deviance: “The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, men who engage in illicit sex, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.” And in 1 Timothy 1:10 Paul condemns “the sexually immoral” and “men who engage in illicit sex.” These passages have been translated in different ways, and for some terms the original meaning is debatable.

Jesus, again, says nothing directly relevant to LGBTQ issues. And Paul, we should remember, never met Jesus before Jesus’s execution and never directly heard a single word that Jesus said during his ministries. (The book of Acts, which was not written by Paul, says that Paul saw the risen Jesus.)

Christian interpretation of the Old Testament (the Jewish scriptures) is difficult. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says he came not “to abolish the Law or the Prophets” but to fulfill them. Paul says in Romans 7:6 that Christians are “discharged from the law.” Paul says in Colossians 2 that Christians, unlike Jews under Jewish law, do not have to be circumcised. Indeed, Paul writes to Christians to “not let anyone condemn you in matters of food or drink,” activities on the Sabbath, or other such regulations.

The relationship between the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible has been debated for centuries. Unless Williams is prepared to enact the entire Old Testament literally, which would include the death penalty for a wide variety of acts that in our society are commonplace, I doubt he wants to put too much weight on the Old Testament’s remarks calling for death for gay sex.

What about Paul’s comments? It will not surprise anyone, including Williams, that some Christians read the Bible more liberally. For example, here is how the pro-LGBTQ Human Rights Campaign explains the Biblical passages that seem relevant:

While . . . passages that address same-sex eroticism in the ancient world are negative about the practices they mention, there is no evidence that these in any way speak to same-sex relationships of love and mutuality. . . . Each time the New Testament addresses the topic in a list of vices (1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10), the argument being made is more than likely about the sexual exploitation of young men by older men, a practice called pederasty, and what we read in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans is a part of a broader indictment against idolatry and excessive, self-centered lust that is driven by desire to ‘consume’ rather than to love and to serve as outlined for Christian partnership elsewhere in the Bible.

While Williams is keen to read into Jesus’s message of love an anti-LGBTQ agenda, he seems to ignore what Jesus actually said according to the Bible. For example, Jesus says (Matthew 19:9), “Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Yet Williams welcomes the endorsement of Donald Trump, who, according to plausible accounts, while cheating on his recently pregnant wife, also cheated on his wife and mistress with a porn star. While Williams worships at Trump’s golden feet, anyone with common sense can anticipate roughly what Jesus or Paul would say about the likes of Trump. (Incidentally, I think Jesus was wrong about divorce, as couples can agree to get divorced for various legitimate reasons, but generally right about the importance of treating one’s spouse respectfully.)

In John 13:34–35, Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Paul seems to recognize this central insight, writing in Galatians 5:14, “The whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Williams manufactures a Jesus with “laser eyes” who condemns LGBTQ people and hates their pride, even as he ignores Jesus’s central message of love.

Williams’s Exaggerations, Half-Truths, and Lies

At the end of each of his two recent anti-pride emails, Williams reproduces a lengthy GOP email of his from last year. This email is filled with misleading statements.

If you write out “Pride Month” without any space it includes the word “demon.” This is as impressive a trick as pointing out that an anagram for “Dave Williams” is “Am Devil’s Wail.” Anyway, according to Williams’s email, “Extreme LGBTQ+ groomers adopted this image [saying ‘demon’] as their own because they mock all that is decent and pure. They, along with radical Democrats, support both so-called ‘gender affirming care’ that results in the mutilation and chemical castration of children, and the normalization of pedophilia.”

Williams’s claim about pedophilia is just a defamatory lie. Republican legislator Scott Bottoms also has claimed, without any basis, that Colorado Democrats want to lower the age of sexual consent to 12. (I’m pretty sure Jesus also had something to say against bearing false witness. Perhaps Williams and Bottoms, who is also a pastor, could check into that.)

The grain of truth in Williams’s claim about the “demon” image is that, after a “conservative activist” and “QAnon supporter” concocted the stupid meme to insult LGBTQ people, some “queer people making fun of it” quote-tweeted it, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The paper continues, “Tweaked versions parodying the graphic were re-shared across social media. In one version, the word PRIDE was repeated until turning into GARFIELD.” Then one queer artist, in the spirit of mocking and “reclaiming” the meme, produced shirts of the “demon” image. So, to Dave Williams, LGBTQ activists making fun of some QAnon dipshit constitutes proof that LGBTQ people are demonic and that they “mock all that is decent and pure.” And this is the chair of the state Republican Party.

Williams is correct that Colorado Democrats generally support gender-affirming care for minors who request it and whose parents also consent. Of course, people who endorse consensual gender-affirming care deny that it constitutes “mutilation and chemical castration of children.”

Last year, Democrats passed, and the governor signed, Senate Bill 188, which, according to the Colorado Sun, “aims to shield people who receive, provide or assist in legal abortions or gender-affirming care in Colorado from being subjected to criminal prosecution or lawsuits initiated in other states.” The bill’s legislative declaration explicitly worries about “prohibitions on gender-affirming care for youth and young adults” in other states. The bill cites “the strongest recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics that transgender youth be given the fullest range of medical and psychiatric care possible.” The bill also worries, “Patients, and those who support them, are also scared. … The parents of youth seeking gender-affirming health care face charges of child abuse and neglect” in some other states. The bill, then, does serve to protect gender-affirming care for minors as well as for adults.

Williams calls the Pride agenda “depravity” and says “these degenerates want to violate our children and their innocence.” Then Williams promises to provide evidence for his claims with a string of annotated pictures.

Williams first shows a photo of a pot-bellied man in underwear “twerking” in front of children at a pride parade in Minneapolis. I agree the man is behaving inappropriately, and as a parent, I don’t want my eight-year-old seeing stuff like that. Williams next shows a photo of a young girl “petting” a man wearing leather straps and a leather animal mask. The image was taken from a Montreal Pride Parade in 2019. Again, I agree that’s inappropriate.

Williams next provides a photo from a PrideFest event in Castle Rock, Douglas County. The photo shows a drag performer swinging on a hoop with exposed fake silicon breasts. Here is what Williams does not reveal about that photo: The organizers of the event agreed that revealing the fake breasts was inappropriate, they called it a “wardrobe malfunction,” and they apologized. As they say, half the truth is a great lie, and Williams is a master of the half-truth.

To summarize, the “evidence” that Williams presents that LGBTQ people are “going after our children” involves three examples that do not involve any sexual assault on any child, one of which is from Colorado, and for which the organizers of the event apologized. This is the basis of Williams’s moral panic.

A side-note: Recently I let my eight-year-old son watch the film Titanic, in which Kate Winslet intentionally and completely reveals her real breasts. (Believe it or not, I’d forgotten about that scene.) Millions of other American parents have let their children watch this film too. Williams, it would seem, has got a lot of catching up to do with his moral condemnations.

Notice that Williams, despite his rhetoric about parental rights, impugns parents who take their children to Pride events. What Williams seems to actually support are parental rights for people who agree with him and legal restrictions for everyone else.

Williams next condemns gender-affirming medical care, “puberty blockers” and “irreversible surgeries for . . . children.” Williams shows a photo, apparently taken from Twitter, showing surgically altered arms in which skin has been removed for phalloplasty, the surgical construction of a penis.

Here’s the problem: There is no evidence that the photos show the arms of children. Generally, transgender people cannot sign up for phalloplasty until they are 18. For example, a document from the Boston Children’s Hospital for Gender Surgery states, “You must be between 18 and 35 years of age at the time of surgery.” A 2018 report by WBUR confirms, “While [Boston] Children’s is a pediatric hospital, patients will have to be 18 or older for phalloplasty. This is in keeping with international guidelines that suggest waiting until the patient is an adult to avoid regret.” (The story also shows a photo of a more-typical arm that has been used in phalloplasty.) Here again, Williams is spreading misinformation.

Notably, only a minority of transgender women (biologically male) opt to get genital surgery. A 2019 study suggested that between 5 and 13 percent of transgender women got such surgery. Even fewer transgender men, around 3%, chose to get phalloplasty.

The grain of truth in Williams’s claims is that various hospitals do provide gender-affirming hormones and some types of gender-affirming surgeries to (consenting) transgender minors (with parental approval). Such medical treatments do raise thorny issues involving the consent of minors.

Gender-affirming surgeries for minors are not widely used. A 2023 study looked at 108 cases (of the total) from 2018 to 2021, almost all of which involved “chest masculinization surgery.” Hormones are more widely used but still used only in a minority of cases. A 2022 report from Reuters shows that 42,167 U.S. minors were diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” in 2021, a sharp increase over previous years. “Overall, the analysis found that at least 121,882 children ages 6 to 17 were diagnosed with gender dysphoria from 2017 through 2021,” Reuters reports. In 2021, 1,390 minors started using puberty blockers, 4,231 started using hormone therapy, and 208 had “top surgeries” (mastectomies). The report summarizes, “A small but increasing number of U.S. children diagnosed with gender dysphoria are choosing medical interventions to express their identity and help alleviate their distress.”

As a parent, personally, I do not think that I ever would consent to a minor child of mine getting gender-related surgery. I would have to think long and hard about hormone treatments with an eye toward potential irreversible long-term health consequences. Certainly, I do not presume to make such difficult choices for other families.

Williams in effect completely rejects the agency of affected minors. In his fantasies, all transgender minors are completely incapable of rationally choosing to get gender-affirming care. Williams instead casts these people as victims of corrupting adults. Likewise, although Williams claims to support parental rights, he wants to completely negate parents’ ability to consent to gender-affirming care that a minor child requests.

In my view, we need to seriously discuss three main matters pertaining to public policy in the context of rights for transgender people: participation of transgender women in high-level sporting events in women’s leagues, use of women’s changing areas by transgender women, and limits of the consent of minors when it comes to gender-affirming medical care. Those are all thorny issues, and in my view, only fools and ideologues treat them as simple with obvious answers.

It is clear, though, that Williams as the leader of the Colorado Republican Party has zero interest in engaging in serious and good-faith conversations about the relevant policy matters. He is concerned only with demonizing LGBTQ people and wrapping his bigotry in the trappings of his religion. Coloradans have seen this sort of thing before.

Ari Armstrong writes regularly for Complete Colorado and is the author of books about Ayn Rand, Harry Potter, and classical liberalism. He can be reached at ari at ariarmstrong dot com.