Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gary Glenn won over Michigan's tea Party membership at a convention on Saturday. Glenn runs the American Family Association of Michigan, a state-based branch of the national AFA that opposes rights for LGBT Michiganders.
Glenn had already won over the support of more than a dozen other county-based tea party groups in the course of campaigning in the last year, and on Saturday, he secured the support of state-wide activists, beating out former Rep. Pete Hoekstra and charter school CEO Clark Durant.
The candidates are vying for the Republican endorsement to take on Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
Saturday's meeting of tea party activists, dubbed Michigan for a Conservative Senate, had an attendance of about 200 activists from 43 tea party chapters.
“I am humbled and highly motivated by the confidence that the TEA Party activists represented here have in my faithfulness to Constitutional principles and my ability to effectively communicate them,” Glenn said in a statement following his win. “I share the TEA Party movement’s commitment to having an authentic conservative nominee and for defeating one of the most liberal Senators in America.”
He went after Hoekstra, who finished a distant third, as well. “All his big money and big name endorsements and hypocritical China ads can’t cover up that big spending record," Glenn said.
Glenn was referring to a Super Bowl ad by Hoekstra that appeared to have anti-Asian-American themes.
A poll two weeks ago showed Stabenow up 14 points over Hoekstra, a lead that had doubled over previous polls. Forty-five percent of those polled said the ad made them want to vote for Hoekstra less.
Glenn, who has been winning the endorsement of tea party groups throughout the state, only garnered a 4 percent of the GOP primary vote in the poll.
Glenn as religious right leader
Glenn represents significant crossover between the tea Party, which is often though of as eschewing social issues in favor of lower taxes and less government, and the religious right, which opposes gay rights and abortion.
Glenn is a religious right leader in Michigan and has secured the the endorsement of religious right leader Mike Huckabee.
And he is no stranger to controversial ads and statements either.
His group, the American Family Association of Michigan is a state-based affiliate of the national American Family Association, an organization whose rhetoric is so extreme, the Southern Poverty Law Center has called it a "hate group."
The SPLC uses some of Glenn's more outrageous quotes in an intelligence files on the AFA.
Glenn has a long history of anti-LGBT activism as head of the AFA-MI.
Last year, with the help of the Thomas More Law Center, Glenn's AFA-MI sued the federal government over the hate crimes law passed in late 2009.
Last summer, Glenn criticized businesses for arguing that legislation protecting LGBT rights would help attract the "best and brightest" employees.
"Being the 'best and brightest' is not defined by engaging in homosexual behavior, specifically because it's not bright to engage in behavior medically associated with dramatically increased personal health risks," he said.
In 2002, he wrote that gay couples should not be allowed to adopt children because they harm their kids:
"The scientific fact is that children's health is endangered if they are adopted into households in which the adults - as a direct consequence of their homosexual behavior -- experience dramatically higher risks of domestic violence, mental illness, life-threatening disease, substance abuse, and premature death by up to 20 years."
The American Independent News Network's Todd Heywood asked Glenn if he supported criminalization of homosexuality in an interview last year. “The short answer to your question is yes, we believe that states should be free to regulate and prohibit behavior that’s a violation of community standards and a proven threat to public health and safety — including, as most of the United States did throughout its history, homosexual behavior.”
Glenn opposes the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell saying that "battlefield blood transfusions" from gay troops would put other troops at risk.
"I mean to compel a more conservative segment of American society, which is the definition of those who volunteer to serve in the United States military typically tend to be people of traditional values, to be forced to share showers and barracks and latrines and foxholes and battlefield conditions with people openly involved in the homosexual lifestyle," he said. "Not only from a moral standpoint but from a medical standpoint, because of the severe medical consequences associated with that behavior, and battlefield blood transfusions. It simply defies reason or rationale that anyone would institute a public policy that put our men and women in the armed services especially on the battlefield at increased risk of being injured or infected on the battlefield through battlefield blood transfusions."
Glenn's group sent out a robo-call against a Toni Sessoms, a lesbian candidate for the state House in Midland in 2010.
Due to this activism, Equality Michigan has come out strongly against Glenn's candidacy.
"Gary Glenn is an extremist that has made a career out of fear mongering and the generous dispersion of lies about any community or individual that does not fit into his narrow and biased interpretation of the world," said Equality Michigan's Emily Dievendorf said in a statement. "Gary Glenn challenging Senator Stabenow is a ridiculous proposition. Sen. Stabenow consistently demonstrates the priorities, reason, and strong leadership that are the makings of an excellent public servant while Gary Glenn has become a symbol of hate, bullying and polarization. He would be a candidate that few sitting or prospective legislators should feel at ease aligning themselves with. Gary could do his friends a favor by getting out of and staying out of the political spotlight.”