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GOP senators want warnings for TV viewers about LGBTQ content

Some GOP senators want new on-screen TV ratings so parents could shield their children from LGBTQ representation in shows. No, seriously.


By any fair measure, Sen. Roger Marshall’s Senate career is off to an interesting start. As regular readers may recall, the trouble began immediately: The first two votes the Kansas Republican cast as a new member of the institution were to reject certification of President Joe Biden’s victory, even as most of his GOP colleagues rejected the radical tactic.

By the summer of 2021, Marshall was calling on the president to “resign immediately.” By the fall, he was partnering with far-right allies on a government shutdown scheme over vaccine policies. All the while, the Kansan, who’s always eager to remind folks of his medical background has pushed Covid-19 rhetoric that “defies medical consensus“ and places him “closer to the medical fringe.”

Earlier this year, while pushing an odd conspiracy theory, Marshall badgered Dr. Anthony Fauci to put financial disclosure information online that was already online. (Fauci was caught on a hot mic describing the confused GOP senator as a “moron.”)

The Kansan and some of his colleagues have apparently settled on a new area of interest. NBC News reported yesterday:

A group of Republican senators is calling for the country’s television ratings system to warn parents about “sexual orientation and gender identity content” on children’s TV shows.... The TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board confirmed to NBC News that it had received the senators’ letter, but it declined to comment further.

Marshall was the lead author of the letter, sent last week, though he was joined by Republican Sens. Mike Braun of Indiana, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Steve Daines of Montana, and Mike Lee of Utah.

Just so we’re all clear, if you watch scripted programs on broadcast television, you’ve probably seen a small box on the corner of your screen as the show begins. It might say, for example, TV PG, followed by the letters S and V. This is intended to let parents know that “parental guidance” is recommended by the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board, and the program will include at least violence and sexual situations.

For five Senate Republicans, this is a good start, but they also want the existing guidelines to be updated and expanded. As The Kansas City Star put it, Marshall and his colleagues want changes to television ratings “so parents could shield their children from LGBTQ representation in shows.”

It was about a year ago when some Republican leaders urged members to win elections by “leaning into” the culture war, largely by hyperventilating about critical race theory. It appears some GOP senators are following the advice — and expanding the culture war landscape.

As NBC News’ report concluded that the Senate Republicans requested the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board respond by May 18, while seeking an in-person presentation on the matter for senators. Watch this space.