This article was published on January 16th, 2023
After this most recent election season, Congress is at its most diverse. However, there is one newly elected member of Congress that’s causing a stir within the LGBTQ+ community in the worst ways. George Santos was recently elected as an openly gay Republican Congressman for New York, and many of his claims made during his campaign are now under investigation, some of which he admitted to lying about while running for office. It’s because of this new revelation that many are questioning his LGBTQ+ identity and calling for him to resign for defrauding voters.
He made numerous claims about his background while running, and Democratic New York Congressman Ritchie Torres, an openly gay member of Congress himself, is calling him out. He was quoted by MSNBC saying, “He has lied systematically about nearly every aspect of his life — his family heritage, his educational background, his employment history, and his ties to historical events like the Holocaust or the Pulse nightclub massacre…”
There’s also been speculation around his marital life as well. According to the Daily Beast, Santos has been “living comfortably as a gay man for nearly ten years,” but records show that he had an undisclosed marriage to a woman and divorced her only two years before running for office in 2020. As the article mentions, there are several reasons why two people may get married, and there is plenty of history in the LGBTQ+ community of those getting married simply because of circumstances. However, Santos has already admitted to lying about his background, so it’s hard not to speculate on the validity of his claims of being “comfortably gay” for nearly ten years.
Why is there a call for his resignation? Well, for allegedly defrauding voters. It’s a painfully obvious answer, but as we’ve seen in the past, a lying politician can get away with quite a lot. It appears that he hoped that running as a gay Republican would earn him favor with the gay community and bring more LGBTQ+ people over to the Republican Party. However, when running for office, any grand claims made about your background are going to get checked. If there’s one thing about the gay community, it’s the ability to pull up receipts and fact check. If he’s willing to lie this much about his background just to get into office, imagine the further lies and corruption he can instill in Congress.
Torres has gone on to say, “We have to send the message that if you defraud the voters, you’re going to be held accountable, you’re going to be even prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” In his interview with MSNBC, he offered a solution to this issue, which he calls the “Stop Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker Act” or, the SANTOS Act. This would require those running for office to disclose their professional and educational histories while under oath.
Things like this cause distrust between politicians and those in the LGBTQ+ community. It’s hard to feel like everyone’s best interests are at heart when someone is possibly lying about their identity just to get your vote. There’s added contention with Santos’ political party being Republican, when historically they tend to work against the gay community and be very outspoken against them. Santos himself has supported the “Don’t Say Gay Bill”, a bill that actively works against members of the community, and “potentially creating unsafe environments for LGBTQ+ students, as it proposes a requirement for teachers to report to parents when students disclose their sexual orientation.”
When it’s a common understanding that politicians can be corrupt, and say whatever they like when running for office, at some point things must change.
Having Santos be publicly held accountable for defrauding his constituents would not only send a powerful message to others who want to run for office, but also show the community that we are to be taken seriously and not lied to. It’s important that we empower those who are active, outspoken members of our community who want to run for office. Fortunately, as this past election has shown, we are seeing more openly gay politicians entering office who are genuine and want to make a real change.