3 GOP candidates for West Virginia governor try to outdo each other on anti-LGBTQ issues


Leading up to Tuesday’s West Virginia primary, three of the Republican candidates for governor have been trying to outdo each other in proving their opposition to transgender rights. 

In TV ads running in West Virginia, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Chris Miller and Moore Capito have been accusing each other of harboring transgender sympathies while touting their own efforts to restrict LGBTQ rights.

“Unfortunately, these are not solutions-based campaigns,” the ACLU of West Virginia told CBS News in a statement. “They’re built instead on demonizing already vulnerable people to score cheap political points.”

Morrisey’s campaign website describes him as “one of the nation’s most outspoken advocates against biological males playing sports with women” and says he’s a staunch supporter of the West Virginia Save Women’s Sports Act of 2021, which required that each athlete’s participation in official or unofficial school-sanctioned sporting and athletic events be “based on the athlete’s biological sex as indicated on the athlete’s original birth certificate issued at the time of birth.” Morrisey recently announced that he plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the legislation’s constitutionality after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the law in mid-April.  

File: 2024 West Virginia GOP candidates for governor, L-R: Patrick Morrisey, Chris Miller, Moore Capito

Morrisey (AP file), Miller and Capito: campaign photos

In response to these efforts, the ACLU of West Virginia told CBS News, “The state has sunk untold resources into keeping one girl from being on her middle school’s track team, including asking the U.S. Supreme Court to treat the matter as an emergency on par with national security”

A super PAC supporting Morrisey, Black Bear, released an ad targeting GOP candidate Chris Miller, claiming Miller “looked the other way as pro-transgender events happened on his watch” while he was a board member at Marshall UniveCrsity in West Virginia. 

Miller, the owner of an auto dealership group in the state, has vowed to “protect our kids from the radical transgender agenda” if elected governor. He hit back with an ad accusing Morrisey of previously lobbying for a transgender clinic dispensing gender transition medication to children in New York before he was elected state attorney general. 

Capito, who previously served in West Virginia’s House of Delegates, touts his fight to ban transgender surgeries from being performed on minors and to outlaw puberty blockers. He released an ad called “Girl Dad” that portrays a fictional race. In it, a runner who appears to be a less athletic male “mid-pack finisher” easily outpaces harder-working female runners as the ad narration accuses “woke leftists” of destroying women’s sports. Capito’s campaign website says he’ll “make sure biological men are NEVER allowed to be in the locker rooms with our daughters.” 

So far, more than a dozen Republican-led states have filed lawsuits to block the Biden administration’s new Title IX regulations, which would protect transgender students from discrimination in schools receiving government funding. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona announced last month the 1972 law protecting sex-based discrimination extends to “discrimination based on sex stereotypes, sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics.” The new regulations are slated to take effect Aug. 1.

The GOP attorneys general who are suing the administration, including Morrisey, allege the administration’s changes extend the coverage of Title IX further than allowed, calling them “sweeping and unlawful.”

The uptick in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric among Republican gubernatorial candidates and state legislators in West Virginia has attracted the notice of the ACLU, which tracked 29 anti-LGBTQ bills there. The organization notes that while not all of the bills would become law, “they all cause harm for LGBTQ people.” 

The West Virginia legislature adjourned in March after passing just one of those bills, which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Jim Justice, who is now running for the U.S. Senate seat left open by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s retirement. The new law bans transgender and non-binary West Virginians from changing their sex on their driver’s license. 

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