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Gay California legislator gets 2nd bomb threat this year

Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener blamed anti-LGBTQ rhetoric from right-wing figures, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for inciting violence.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco in Sacramento, Calif., on June 14, 2022.
California state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, in Sacramento on June 14.Rich Pedroncelli / AP file

A gay California lawmaker revealed Tuesday that he received a bomb threat laced with homophobic tropes and rhetoric, amid a simmering culture war that has sparked widespread anti-LGBTQ threats and attacks nationwide.

California state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said an unnamed individual threatened to bomb his home and shoot up his office. He said he was informed of the threat by police and a local newspaper that the individual had emailed.

“The email said, we will f---ing kill you’ and called me a pedophile and groomer,” Wiener said in a statement released on Twitter. “The extreme homophobic and transphobic rhetoric that has escalated on social media and right wing media outlets has real world impacts.”

He added that this is the second bomb threat he has received this year and just the latest in a "wave of death threats" against him related to his LGBTQ advocacy work.

Officer Niccole Pacchetti, a San Francisco police spokesperson, confirmed in an email that officers responded Tuesday to a report of a bomb threat against an elected official, whom she did not name. Pacchetti said that officers were unable to find an explosive device and that the threat was determined to “not have any merit.” She declined to say whether police had a suspect, but she confirmed that “the incident remains under active investigation.”

In Wiener's tweet, he accused Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., conservative activist Charlie Kirk and "others in the MAGA conspiracy theory ecosystem" of inciting violence, and he called on "responsible political leaders on the right" to call out and stop tolerating "extreme homophobic and transphobic rhetoric."

Within the last two weeks, Greene called Wiener a “communist groomer” on Twitter, and Kirk accused Wiener of releasing “pedophiles” from jail without further explanation.

In response to NBC News’ request for comment, Greene’s communications director, Nick Dyer, called Wiener “ridiculous” without expanding further. Kirk did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The latest threat against Wiener comes amid widespread bigoted rhetoric, threats and attacks directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people across the country.

For months, many right-wing lawmakers, media personalities and activists have accused LGBTQ people of “grooming,” “indoctrinating” and “sexualizing” children. The word “grooming” has long been associated with mischaracterizing gay men as sexual abusers of children. 

LGBTQ advocates have warned repeatedly that the recent resurgence in these tropes could lead to real-world violence.

A recent report by the Crowd Counting Consortium, a research group that tracks the size of political protests, found a sharp escalation in anti-LGBTQ demonstrations this year. It also found a spike in the share of total right-wing protests with anti-LGBTQ claims: The monthly share had stayed at or close to zero from early 2017 to midyear, and then it started to creep up, reaching 16% in September.

The report also found that a substantial — and increasing — share of the anti-LGBTQ protesters have been armed.

Just last week — in the wake of a gunman killing five people and injuring 17 others at a Colorado LGBTQ bar — the Department of Homeland Security issued a terrorism advisory bulletin that raised concerns about potential threats to the LGBTQ, Jewish and migrant communities from violent domestic extremists. The bulletin said some extremists had been inspired by recent attacks, including the Colorado shooting.

In a tweet posted Wednesday morning, Wiener shared a link from the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit group that monitors and fights antisemitism globally, that warned of “extremist events targeting the LGBTQ+ community.” Along with the link and a screenshot of one of the protests, he shared a message.

"Hate stems from the same root & the folks inciting violence against Jews, LGBTQ people & others are joined at the hip," he wrote.