The TN GOP Is Triggering a Soldier’s PTSD Just to Attack an Atheist Candidate March 10, 2018

The TN GOP Is Triggering a Soldier’s PTSD Just to Attack an Atheist Candidate

As I’ve noted before, Tennessee Republicans are still running a smear campaign against Gayle Jordan, an atheist Democrat running for a State Senate seat up for grabs this Tuesday in a special election.

This is a red district, and a Republican victory should be all-but-assured, yet the state’s GOP has been going above and beyond in their attacks against Jordan. They’ve tried to use her open atheism against her. They’ve taken her words out of context to make her sound like a traitor. But what they did this week with a soldier is especially irresponsible and callous.

By way of background, the GOP has latched onto one particular statement made by Jordan in which she said she’s “doing my part to destroy the fabric of America.”

The context is that she officiated a same-sex wedding last December, posted a picture of herself with the happy couple on Facebook, and used that line as a joke to celebrate their new union. She was obviously referring to the anti-gay talking point about how same-sex marriage is ruining the country.

In a new mailer sent out to people in the district this week, the Tennessee Republican Party took that image, did a horrible job blurring the mens’ faces, and used the entire Facebook post to attack Jordan. (And that’s not even getting into the picture they used on the other side.)

My first thought was that this is an idiotic move on their part. Showing the statement in context makes the GOP look bad. But I guess when the mailer’s design is intended to make Jordan look evil, context doesn’t matter.

But Jordan’s daughter posted a statement about the mailer on Facebook that was just devastating — and she calls out Jordan’s opponent Shane Reeves for his complicity in this attack.

Shane Reeves and his campaign took a photo of a wedding my mother officiated last year and mailed it to thousands of people.

One of the dear men in the photo is a combat veteran who served our country in the Air Force. He has PTSD from his service.

The anxiety and stress this mailer has caused has flared up his PTSD and has forced this couple to seek legal counsel for damages.

My partner is also a combat veteran who struggles with PTSD. It is a brutal illness on its best days. Living with someone suffering from that has taught me a lot about the strength of human spirit and the courage of those who struggle with it.

This man served our country during Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This man risked his life for a nation that wasn’t even willing to recognize his humanity.

Now what was the best moment of his life has been shared to thousands of people in a vile attack, potentially to dangerous bigots willing to commit hate crimes. Do not downplay the seriousness of that — it is not an unlikely or rare scenario.

Mr. Reeves and the Republican Party have taken ZERO responsibility for this. The “blurring” attempt was laughable. I graduated with a BFA and have seen better photoshop from 10 year olds on Instagram.

The victim blaming the representative engages in during this call is absolutely disgusting, as well as his absurd attempt to try to say “they aren’t judging, they have no problem with the men getting married” when on Reeve’s campaign page he makes it crystal clear he believes marriage is to be kept strictly heterosexual.

It is 2018. We should be better than this. Republicans should be better than this.

Where is your dignity? Your compassion and kindness? How about some damn integrity??

This attack is so low, and they should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

Please give the office a call at (615) 269-4260 and let them know your thoughts on this.

There’s nothing compassionate or kind in today’s GOP. But District 14 is on the verge of electing a man with so much hate in his heart, he’s willing to exacerbate a soldier’s trauma just to take a cheap shot at his opponent.

Shane Reeves is an embarrassment. The Tennessee Republican Party is an embarrassment. They’re made for each other. When the party is already scraping the bottom of the barrel, they’re not going to find any quality candidates.

It’s not too late to donate to Gayle Jordan’s campaign right here. It would send a strong message that this sort of bigotry won’t go unchallenged.

***Update***: The couple in the photo is now suing the Tennessee Republican Party.

The picture was lifted from Jordan’s Facebook page without permission. Both of the men’s faces are blurred, but [Shane] Morgan said their faces can still be recognized.

“To see our picture on our wedding day being used in such a vile manner, it’s taken that special moment and ruined it,” Morgan said. “Ruined it. Very hurt. Very hurt.”

The mailer was paid for by the Tennessee Republican Party.

“It’s just sad anyone would use someone’s wedding photos, which represent one of the happiest days in their lives, to attack somebody,” said Chris Sanders of the TN Equality Project. “It’s fine to hit the candidate, but it’s not right to sling mud on others in the process. That’s what we’re seeing here. It is just so emotionally unsettling to see your wedding photo, that happy day, used in that context.”

“I’m under a lot of stress, and with my PTSD, it’s just flaring up even worse,” Morgan said. “I hate it. Don’t use people’s private personal pictures to smear your opponent.”

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