The right begins to turn on Glenn Youngkin after discovering he has an out staffer

Glenn Youngkin
Glenn Youngkin Photo: Shutterstock

Despite standing against marriage equality and largely basing his campaign around attacking trans people, prominent conservatives are turning on Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) for daring to have at least one single out person on staff.  The presence of the staffer, and his inclusion of pronouns in his social media bios, has led to Youngkin being deemed an “establishment disappointment,” and proof that Youngkin will put a “knife in people’s backs” and commit to more of the same “squishy GOP grift” in office.

Meanwhile, the Republican staffer is being attacked across conservatives circles on social media, with Youngkin staff and Log Cabin Republicans coming to his defense from conservative media and far-right advocates.

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The Daily Beast reports that the “controversy” around Youngkin’s staffer is one of several recent criticisms of the governor-to-be and former private equity corporation CEO, showing that the right may have “buyer’s remorse” just days after helping to push Youngkin defeated Terry McAuliffe.

One reason is their discovery that Youngkin has a communications aide named Joshua Marin-Mora, a recent Georgetown University graduate who was previously an intern at the conservative legal advocacy group New Civil Liberties Alliance, which filed a brief against protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in the Supreme Court’s Bostock v. Clayton Co. proceedings in 2020.

Yet, the right is still lampooning the staffer as a potential “woke far-leftist” because he had his pronouns listed on social media.

Several conservatives began analyzing Marin-Mora’s social media and online activity, with right-wing blog RedState claiming that he likely is “a full-blown woke warrior, down to chastising ‘cisgender males’ and having pronouns in his bio.” Marin-Mora, who is also Latino, made posts online with the bisexual pride flag while attending Pride events.

Conservative journalist Pedro L. Gonzalez made a thread compiling Marin-Mora’s public life, screenshotting his social media and quotes from when he ran for student government at Georgetown. Gonzalez uses Marin-Mora’s participation on a “Latinx Leadership Forum” and recognition of male privilege as evidence that “The new GOP is actually worse than the old GOP.”

A Twitter page claiming to work toward “connecting Northern Virginia issues to office holders in NoVA and Richmond” shared posts from Marin-Mora’s social media, claiming it’s troubling that he “likes several Diversity Equity issues.”

Others on the right were quick to jump in with condemnation for Youngkin and Marin-Mora. Far-right leaders such as Jack Posobiec and Lauren Witzke shared Gonzalez’s denouncement across social media.

Soon, another conservative journalist, Townhall.com editor Guy P. Benson, came to the defense of Marin-Mora, who is his former student. Benson claims Marin-Mora is “proudly center-right” and “worked his ass off to help Youngkin.”

“We have some Righties bombarding him w/ the message ‘we don’t want you,'” Benson stated, “To which I say, with deep & abiding respect: F*** that.”

It didn’t indemnify Marin-Mora from further criticism.

The controversy around Marin-Mora led to Youngkin staff, Log Cabin GOP members and other Republicans to also come out in his defense.

Youngkin’s communications director Matt Wolking said Marin-Mora is “a valued member of our campaign’s comms team and has been for months. He worked hard to elect a conservative as Virginia’s next governor. Attacking him for that is ignorant and foolish.”

Marin-Mora has not said anything publicly but shared tweets from those coming to his defense, and also altered his social media presence after.

The ongoing infighting has continued still.

This is the inevitable result of Youngkin’s strategy to play both sides on several issues.

Youngkin explicitly appealed to the right wing and the transphobia that it has displayed in school board battles. It’s not by chance that some of the most vicious attacks on trans students have come in Virginia, particularly at the Loudon County school board.

Youngkin seized upon these attacks as his ticket to the governor’s mansion. Youngkin also ran his campaign on the backs of transgender students, unsurprising for a man who called trans girls “biological males.”

Still, he tried to appeal to a wide base of conservatives and centrists while avoiding any outright endorsement of or association with Donald Trump, even though Trump came to Virginia and campaigned for him.

Youngkin also avoided being clear about his opposition to same-sex marriage, remaining unclear on the subject for weeks before finally admitting to it in an interview days before the election. That led to the religious right to further push Youngkin’s campaign, arguably giving it a last-minute boost to victory, rather than tanking his campaign.

Still, Youngkin has continued to center anti-LGBTQ advocacy as a theme for his upcoming administration. His transition team is filled with longtime anti-LGBTQ activists, including people who helped elect the likes of Mike Pence and others who wrote laws banning same-sex marriage in Virginia prior to marriage equality becoming law of the land.

Similarly, many conservatives spent the week attacking Republican leaders such as GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel for associating with LGBTQ people last week, even though Donald and Melania Trump proudly participated in the event with the Log Cabin Republicans as well. McDaniel later apologized and pledged to protect “family values.”

The infighting will likely continue as the right tries to reconcile their support for conservative tradition and “family values,” and opposition to LGBTQ rights and identity politics, with their allegiance to Trump and other Trump-like extremists.

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