A new group has sent a second mass mailing to Iowa households, purporting to praise former President Donald Trump as an advocate for LGBTQ rights. The latest mailer from Advancing Our Values, incorporated in late June, describes Trump as a “Trailblazer for Trans Rights!” and opponent of “bathroom bills,” which prohibit transgender people from using facilities that align with their gender identity.
Advancing Our Values sent its first mailer to Iowans earlier this month, highlighting Trump’s supposed backing for marriage equality and trans rights.
An Iowa reader provided the following images to Bleeding Heartland on July 15:
The front side of the new mailing asserts that Trump “Stood Strong Against Bathroom Bills,” citing three comments he made as a presidential candidate in 2016. At that time, North Carolina was facing boycotts after adopting the country’s first bathroom bill. Iowa is one of nine Republican-controlled states to enact some kind of bathroom bill since 2021; Governor Kim Reynolds signed that legislation (which focuses on school facilities) in March.
Like the earlier mailing from Advancing Our Values, this piece also highlights the decision in 2012 to allow a transgender woman to compete in a Miss Universe pageant. Whereas the first mailing used the term “biological male”—an obvious sign the message didn’t come from any genuine advocates for LGBTQ equality—this one refers to the contestant as a “trans-woman.” It also mentions that in 2015, Trump asked Caitlyn Jenner (one of the most famous trans women) to be a judge for Miss USA.
The back side raises a topic not covered in the first missive from Advancing Our Values. It says Trump “Fought Against Conservatives to Protect Transgender Rights” when he opposed efforts by members of Congress “to strip the US Mexico Canada Agreement of language protecting sexual orientation and gender identity.” The source is a November 2018 news release from U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado.
Like the earlier mailing, these facts are presented in a way that appears to praise Trump, urging the reader to contact the candidate’s office and “thank him for fighting for LGBTQ+ rights!” But the clear purpose of the mailing is to diminish support for Trump among potential Iowa Republican caucus-goers. Discrimination against transgender people is popular in GOP circles, and presidential candidates often receive applause or ovations in Iowa for rhetoric opposing inclusive policies.
Looking at Trump’s record as a whole, he could hardly be portrayed as an LGBTQ ally. As president, he tried to ban transgender people from serving in the military. During this year’s campaign, he has promised to “defeat the toxic poison of gender ideology” by signing an executive order to prohibit federal agencies from promoting “sex or gender transition at any age.”
The funding source of Advancing Our Values remains unclear. The attorney whose name appears on incorporation documents is a former deputy general counsel for Koch Industries. But communications staff for that organization (a large funder of Republican and conservative causes) denied that Koch Industries paid for or supported the mailings. I have not found any link to operatives for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose campaign recently pushed the narrative that Trump was too supportive of LGBTQ equality.
The Koch-funded AFP Action has sent several mailings to Iowans that portray Trump as unelectable. Here are the latest examples.