Sen. James Inhofe, longtime anti-LGBTQ+ foe, is dead

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ImageJames Inhofe, the longtime U.S. senator and implacable foe of LGBTQ+ rights, has died after suffering a stroke. He was 89. The firebrand Republican retired from the Senate in 2023 after a six-decade career serving in the Oklahoma Legislature, as the mayor of Tulsa, in the U.S. House of Representatives, and in the Senate since 1994. Related GOP senator announces opposition to same-sex marriage bill because taxes
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) is worried that groups that oppose same-sex marriage “will be challenged on their tax policy and will immediately become a target of this federal government.” Inhofe has a long list of greatest hits in service to his anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, based in no small part on his membership in the Family, also known as the Fellowship, a network of powerful evangelicals with the goal of erecting a Christian Nationalist state. Insights for the LGBTQ+ community Subscribe to our briefing for insights into how politics impacts the LGBTQ+ community and more.
Subscribe to our Newsletter today Members of the group are well-known for helping draft Uganda’s notorious Kill the Gays laws. Inhofe was considered overtly hostile to the LGBTQ+ community throughout his career and earned a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign in every House and Senate term he served. In the 1990s, Inhofe stated publicly he wouldn’t hire gay staffers. Around the same time, he denied a confirmation vote to gay philanthropist James Hormel, President Bill Clinton’s selection for U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg. As an outspoke opponent of marriage equality, Inhofe waded into local DC politics when he supported an unsuccessful effort to block same-sex unions in the district in 2010. The same year, as Congress debated repeal of the Defense Department’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy closeting or expelling gay service members, Inhofe claimed straight soldiers wouldn’t want to serve with LGBTQ+ comrades. Inhofe accused President Barack Obama of “promoting the homosexual agenda” and demanded service members be barred from marching in uniform in “political” Pride parades. In 2013, Inhofe tried to exploit differing states laws on marriage equality to deny service members marriage leave. The senator introduced legislation that would prohibit same-sex unions from being held on military bases. He also cited a religious freedom exemption while writing an amendment to a 2015 Senate Budget Resolution that would have allowed businesses and organizations access to government contracts and federal funds even if they discriminate against married, same-sex couples. Inhofe said the amendment would “protect the constitutional right for an individual, business, or organization to peacefully and freely adhere to their religious beliefs.” Inhofe was among 10 Republican senators, including Trump running mate contender Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) and confirmed bachelor Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC), who in 2022 opposed the Respect for Marriage Act, a national law that requires the federal and state governments to recognize legal same-sex marriages. Inhofe was also well known for his early and repeated climate change denial. After traveling to the climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009,  Inhofe famously brought a snowball to the Senate floor to prove global warming is “a hoax.” Years later, Inhofe told The Olkahoman he didn’t regret the Senate stunt. “No. I’m trying to figure out who that offended because it was an enjoyable thing. People take things too seriously,” he said. The globe is currently experiencing the hottest year on record. Climate scientists only expect the temperature to rise in the years and decades ahead due to climate change.

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