‘Welcome to your House,’ unless you disagree with Republicans

Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

The Arizona House of Representatives is your House, so long as you don’t disagree with the Republicans who run the chamber.

That’s the only conclusion to reach after this week’s overblown GOP reaction to Democrats using a meeting room in the House basement to invite a drag artist to read a children’s book about acceptance to a group of adults.

In response to a drag performer wearing gaudy pink makeup, a black suit coat with a glittery pink sleeve and a wide-brimmed hat reading poems and an illustrated children’s book about inclusion and acceptance, House Speaker Ben Toma declared that Democrats no longer could access the chamber’s meeting rooms.

The event for lawmakers and legislative staffers, Toma bleated on X, was “radical activism” that promoted a “dangerously perverse ideology.” 

Toma’s vitriolic reaction, which came only after one of his opponents in the GOP primary for a West Valley congressional district called him out for ostensibly approving the event, was matched by a number of House Republicans.

“This is a desecration of the people’s house,” Rep. Rachel Jones insisted.

“The People’s House should be a safe place for the children of Arizona and I am outraged at this violation of trust,” whined Rep. Alex Kolodin, wrongly insinuating there were children present instead of just lawmakers and their aides. He further demanded that Toma bar the Democrat who arranged the event from accessing any parts of the building except for the floor.

“This is completely unacceptable behavior!” House Majority Whip Teresa Martinez shouted on social media.

The histrionics make clear just how duplicitous and hypocritical these Republicans are. Less than a week earlier, all three — Jones, Kolodin and Martinez — emphatically declared from the chamber’s floor that the House of Representatives belonged to Arizonans.

“I just want to give you a friendly reminder: This is not our House, this is your House. So, welcome to your House,” Jones said on April 24 as she welcomed a gaggle of anti-abortion activists who crowded the chamber’s third-floor public gallery.

Likewise, Kolodin and Martinez introduced anti-abortion advocates and activists, making sure to emphasize that this was “your House” and they were always welcome. 

Apparently, that welcome isn’t universal. If you agree with Republicans, you’ll be welcomed with open arms and told to make yourself at home. But do something to publicly subvert their closed-minded bigotry, and they’ll cast you out as a dissident to their fragile authoritarian rule.

It’s unsurprising, given the GOP’s full embrace of counter-majoritarian rule and the desperate desire to cling to power at the Capitol that’s been on full display since the 2022 midterms. 

But, hey, at least it has us talking about something other than how 90% of legislative Republicans fought tooth and nail to strip bodily autonomy from Arizona women.

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