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Disgraced homophobe Jeff Sessions is watching his political career dissipate in front of his very eyes

Nick Duffy July 15, 2020
Jeff Sessions addresses the media after voting in the Alabama Republican primary runoff for the U.S. Senate on July 14, 2020 in Mobile, Alabama.

Jeff Sessions addresses the media after voting in the Alabama Republican primary runoff for the U.S. Senate on July 14, 2020 in Mobile, Alabama. (Michael DeMocker/Getty Images)

Disgraced former Trump official Jeff Sessions has had his attempt at a political comeback thwarted.

The former attorney general, one of the most notoriously anti-LGBT+ politicians in the Republican Party, had launched a bid to win back his former Senate seat, two years on from his exit from the Trump administration.

Jeff Sessions’ Senate hopes crushed after primary defeat to Trump-backed opponent.

But his dreams of a comeback were killed off in Tuesday’s Republican primary run-off, with GOP voters opting to support his Trump-backed opponent, former football coach Tommy Tuberville, by a margin of nearly two-to-one.

Tuberville, who will face pro-LGBT+ Democratic incumbent Doug Jones in November, is no ally to the queer community, but it’s hard to think of anyone with as bleak a record on equality as Sessions, who has a decades-long record of racist and homophobic actions.

Jeff Sessions addresses the media after voting in the Alabama Republican primary runoff for the U.S. Senate on July 14, 2020 in Mobile, Alabama.
Jeff Sessions addresses the media after voting in the Alabama Republican primary runoff for the U.S. Senate on July 14, 2020 in Mobile, Alabama. (Michael DeMocker/Getty Images)

As attorney general, the Republican hardliner led efforts to reverse Obama-era guidance on LGBT+ protections and undermine discrimination laws that protected workers based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Among many regressive interventions under the Sessions-led department of justice was a move to block monitoring of crimes against LGBT+ teens, the Trump administration’s decision to argue that it should be legal for businesses to sack employees for being transgender.

In November 2017, Sessions issued a directive protecting “the right to perform or abstain from performing certain physical acts in accordance with one’s beliefs”, attempting to underscore the right of evangelicals to discriminate against LGBT+ people based on religion.

Sessions also launched an impassioned defence of baker Jack Phillips, who refused to sell wedding cakes to gay couples, and challenged the designation of anti-LGBT+ hate groups that have called for gay people to be imprisoned and link homosexuality to paedophilia.

Addressing a religious summit in 2017, he vowed: “Let’s be frank. A dangerous movement undetected by many is challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt, it’s no little matter, it must be confronted intellectually and politically and be defeated.

“We’ve gotten to the point where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law, where ministers are fearful to affirm holy writ from the pulpit, and where one group can actively target religious groups by labelling them hate groups. This president and department of justice are determined to protect and advance our heritage of freedom of religion.”

Republican primary winner is not much more promising despite less extreme record.

Like Sessions, Tuberville is also a hardline Christian conservative, though he has largely steered clear of LGBT+ issues so far in the race.

The Advocate notes that Tuberville has previously hit out at the presence of drag queens at a Christmas parade, raging: “Hard to believe that right in my own backyard the city of Opelika allows drag queens in the city Christmas Parade which was held this weekend. What is next?”

However, the former football coach previously took a more sensitive approach to players who came out as gay.

In 2014 he revealed to CBS Sports praising pioneering gay NFL player Michael Sam, adding that he knew of at least five former players who had come out after leaving the sport.

He said: “You don’t always know what people are going through. A situation like this I think is gonna help.”

The Democratic incumbent, Doug Jones, is a progressive on LGBT+ rights and has a gay son. In the Senate, he has co-sponsored the Equality Act, a bill that would cement LGBT+ non-discrimination protections in all 50 states.

More: alabama, attorney general, Donald Trump, doug jones, Homophobia, Jeff Sessions, Tommy Tuberville

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