SAINT PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Senate is currently in the midst of its annual budget debate. Although the state legislature is controlled by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (the state’s Democratic party affiliate), the Minnesota Republicans are proving to be just as partisan as their colleagues in states like Florida, Texas, and Utah. One GOP senator stands out, in particular. Republican Sen. Eric Lucero took to the Senate floor to amend the omnibus legacy bill with a proposal that prohibits public funding for arts and culture “related to the occult, divination, necromancy, soothsaying, Satanism, [and] pedophilia.” Other amendments include anti-drag bills, treating marijuana like sugar, and more.
Sen. Lucero really struck a chord with me. Despite the fact that he doesn’t explicitly target adult entertainment, the words he spews are emblematic of the moral panic against our industry. And the man clearly believes what he says.
“Sin is real,” Sen. Lucero said in floor remarks. “Sin, S-I-N, is real. Sin is evil. Sin can exist in any institution. And, we need to work hard as the Minnesota Senate to protect our young, vulnerable children’s minds against these terrible, evil, wicked practices. And, unfortunately, because of all humans are subjected to potentially being corrupted by sin. We need to examine all institutions to prohibit such funds.”
“There are practices out there that seek to groom and corrupt the minds of young children to engage in sexual perversion,” he continued. “And, those wicked people manifest themselves in many different areas of our society. One of those areas in [which they] have manifested themselves are in the areas of the arts and I want to make sure that taxpayer dollars do not fall into the hands of these wicked, vile people that push sexual perversion, gender confusion — that might come to our capital, and in displays of abomination, parade themselves around the rotunda.”
“I don’t want pictures, plays, theater, sculptures, or any other type of art to be used to channel the occult — to promote the occult or any of its variations: Satanism, and the wicked, evil practice of grooming young children such as pedophilia,” Lucero concluded.
Predictably, Lucero’s Senate floor show didn’t escape the attention of the Twitterverse.
Today, Minnesota Republicans wasted everyone's time with an amendment banning public funding of… necromancy and the occult.
— Brian Evans (@BriInMN) April 17, 2023
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 18, 2023
When he said “displays of abomination”, all I could think about was his yellow jacket.
— Ron Waxman 🏳️🌈🇺🇦 (@RonWaxman) April 18, 2023
Fortunatley, according to the Senate Journal, the Lucero amendment was defeated by a vote of 34 ‘nays’ to 30 ‘yeas’ (Lucero included). Since the motion to amend the budget didn’t prevail, it wasn’t adopted. It still is important to discuss though. These types of displays of pure panic and fearmongering are the exact tactics that are finding success in more conservative places, like Utah. People’s freedom of expression, their bodily autonomy, and their right to live according to their will (and within the law) are being trampled upon by men and women like Sen. Lucero.
This measure comes in the context of anti-drag show bills, bans on LGBTQ literature, prohibitions on comic books, the censorship of Michelangelo’s “David,” bans of peer-reviewed academic research, and the deprivation of media and culture that these people claim as obscene, or (in the words of Lucero) harbingers of sexual perversion in the minds of children.
I’m at a loss for words, other than this: I grew up in an extremely conservative Roman Catholic family and I was told growing up that openly expressing one’s sexuality was a sin. My story isn’t unique. It isn’t hard to imagine a young teenager struggling with attraction to multiple genders, including the same sex and the opposite sex all at the same time. Feelings he was taught to suppress and from which he should pray to God to save him. Denial and an internal struggle that led him down dangerous and self-harmful paths couldn’t prevent the truth from prevailing, however.
Lucero, and his colleagues all over the country, are depriving youth the right to live openly and freely without the stigma of a very hyper-religious environment that is just as damaging to one’s mental health as any other source of emotional or physical trauma. I know people in this industry who have defied these paternalistic boundaries of their upbringings only to be rewarded with great personal costs and more pain.
These bills, in many ways, are pies in the faces of these hard-working adult entertainment professionals — and, really, the entirety of the industry that struggles to simply provide a product or service that is legal, regulated, and valued by most people in some format or another.
Lucero said he’s trying to protect kids with proposals like his failed budget amendment. By pushing a singular worldview on the majority of others, he is doing nothing more than grandstanding on issues that are vested in hysteria sparked against freedom, joy, and individual rights.