Viral speech: Michigan Sen. Mallory McMorrow fires back at colleague’s ‘grooming’ accusation

Democrat takes to Senate Floor to slam statements made by state Sen. Lana Theis

Michigan Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak (senatedems.com)

LANSING, Mich. – A Michigan state senator’s passionate speech has gone viral after she took to the Senate Floor to defend herself against unsubstantiated claims made by another lawmaker in a campaign email.

Democratic Michigan Sen. Mallory McMorrow on Tuesday addressed the state Senate in response to an unproven allegation that she wants to “groom and sexualize kindergartners.” The accusation was made in a fundraising email earlier this week by Republican state legislator Lana Theis, who represents the state’s 22nd district -- all of Livingston County and part of Washtenaw County.

“Senator Lana Theis accused me by name of grooming and sexualizing children in an attempt to marginalize me for standing up against her marginalizing the LGBTQ community,” McMorrow tweeted alongside her remarks, which have garnered more than 8 million views in less than 24 hours.

“I sat on it for a while wondering why me? Then I realized ... I’m the biggest threat to your hollow, hateful scheme,” McMorrow wrote, addressing Theis. “Because you can’t claim that you’re targeting marginalized kids in the name of ‘parental rights’ if another parent is standing up and saying no.”

The feud between Theis and McMorrow -- who represents cities like Royal Oak and Troy in the 13th district -- reportedly began after the Democrat responded to the Republican state senator’s prayer delivered on the Senate Floor last week, which claimed, in part, that children are “under attack” from progressive ideals. In response to McMorrow’s critique, Theis called out the Democratic lawmaker in a campaign email directly, making claims using polarizing language without any evidence to back them up.

“These are the people we are up against,” Theis wrote. “Progressive social media trolls like Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Snowflake) who are outraged they can’t teach can’t groom and sexualize kindergartners or that 8-year-olds are responsible for slavery.”

The term “grooming” has become a buzzword widely used by GOP lawmakers across the U.S. who are pushing to restrict how public schools address sexual orientation and gender identity. Opponents of these education laws argue that using such rhetoric inappropriately equates teaching materials and educators with pornography and even pedophilia in an attempt to make education a political wedge issue.

The issue taken up by conservative lawmakers and states is similar to their efforts to ban the teaching of the often misunderstood “critical race theory” in U.S. schools, which Theis underscored in her campaign email.

McMorrow denounced Theis’ claims, saying, as a parent, she wants her daughter to be supported and respected for “whoever she becomes,” and argues that people who are “different are not the reason our roads are in bad shape, or healthcare costs are too high, or teachers are leaving the profession.”

“I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom who knows that the very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism means that children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they are white is absolute nonsense,” McMorrow said. “No child alive today is responsible for slavery. No one is this room is responsible for slavery. But each and every single one of us bears responsibility for writing the next chapter of history. We decide what happens next, and how we respond to history and the world around us.

“We are not responsible for the past. We also cannot change the past. We can’t pretend that it didn’t happen, or deny people their very right to exist.”

Related: Talk of race, sex in schools divides Americans: AP-NORC poll

The Democratic state legislator called out GOP lawmakers for focusing on divisive topics and laws, instead of fixing the “real issues that impact peoples lives.”

“Call me whatever you want. I know who I am. I know what faith and service mean, and what it calls for in this moment,” McMorrow said. “We will not let hate win.”

State Sen. Theis’ office did not immediately respond for comment.

Click here to watch the full speech.


Explainer: So much buzz, but what is critical race theory?


About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.