Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy opposes LGBTQ+ equality and abortion, and he's found a wild way to combine those two passions.
The Republican resigned from Congress early this week, but as Rewire.News was the first to report, he introduced a bill that would ban genetic testing on fetuses to determine whether they are gay before he left. Duffy's office issued a press release about the legislation on Sept. 20, three days before Duffy's resignation, that called to "protect the lives of unborn gay children."
Though the press release has now been deleted from his site, it's still available in a cached version. It claims the bill would protect the lives of gay fetuses, claiming new research indicates that sexual orientation is determined -- at least in part -- by genetics.
According to Duffy, legislation is needed to prevent parents from aborting children who are thought to have genetic predispositions for homosexuality.
But that's a complete misreading of the actual research, which indicates that there's no such thing as a gay gene. Instead, there are thousands of tiny markers that are correlated with a person reporting at least one same-sex encounter over the course of their entire life. What's more, those markers don't fully account for human sexuality.
There is currently no in-vitro test for sexual orientation, and the latest research doesn't indicate in any way that such a test could possibly be carried out.
Duffy's motivation is evident with a quick look at his record. The Real World: Boston star turned politician has long been an opponent of reproductive freedom and has supported the defunding of medical centers that provide family planning. He voted against federal funding for women's health centers as far back as 2011.
In the end, this bill is likely just another empty gesture to display his stance on abortion. It stands virtually no chance of passage, both because it has no scientific basis and because the Senate in unlikely to approve such a proposal.
"There's no indication that this would happen, first of all," Leila Abolfazli, director of federal reproductive rights for the National Women's Law Center, told Rewire.News. "I think the premise of the bill basically acknowledges that there's discrimination against [LGBTQ+] people ... but [Republicans] are doing nothing to protect [LGBTQ+] individuals from discrimination on an everyday basis. It's offensive that this is the way he's approaching it."
It's true that Duffy has long stood in the way of LGBTQ+ equality. He's a major supporter of the Trump administration, which has continually rolled back equal protections for queer and trans people. Duffy opposed job protections for LGBTQ+ federal contractors and was endorsed by Julaine Appling of the anti-LGBTQ+ Wisconsin Family Council.
Appline has credited Duffy with being supportive of "traditional marriage and other timeless values," according to the Associated Press.
Duffy said he was resigning from Congress to spend more time with his family now that his wife is giving birth to their ninth child. There's no word on whether he intends to test whether or not the fetus is gay.