John Fetterman Pulled Funding for an LGBTQ+ Center After Libs of TikTok Tweeted About It

Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. John Fetterman is under fire from LGBTQ+ progressives once again this week, after his office appeared to rescind support for a Philadelphia LGBTQ+ center due to “Libs of TikTok” propaganda.

Fetterman, along with fellow Democrat Sen. Bob Casey, earmarked $1 million in the 2024 federal budget for the William Way Community Center, which was slated to be spent on renovations, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee. But that funding was stripped out of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill this week, after Fetterman and Casey both withdrew their support in separate letters dated March 5.

The senators’ about-face came mere hours after Chaya Raichik, founder of the anti-LGBTQ+ advocacy group “Libs of TikTok,” posted about the William Way Center on social media. Raichik alleged that the center “boasts rooms to try BDSM and s*x f*tishes,” referring to the center’s partnership with “The Aviary,” a local kink group that has hosted semi-monthly events in the center for nearly a decade. Although the center itself obviously has no fetish rooms, that didn’t stop both senators’ offices from swiftly pulling their support that same day, after which Raichik claimed victory. The center was no longer listed in the updated appropriations package as of Wednesday.

Casey’s office stood by the decision, telling Business Insider that “the highest level of scrutiny” must be applied to such appropriations “on behalf of taxpayers.” But Fetterman, in contrast, claimed that his staff decided to pull support for the earmark without his knowledge.

“I wasn’t part of that letter. I know that seems strange, but I wasn’t a part of that,” Fetterman told Business Insider at the Capitol on Wednesday, saying he was “horrified.” Later, Fetterman released a longer statement in which he asserted he had “no problem with what consenting adults do in their private time.”

“The choice was either to pull it or watch it get stripped out, attacked by Republicans, and ultimately killed,” Fetterman wrote, adding, “I’m new here, but I wasn’t aware that Democratic values and priorities are dictated by Libs of TikTok.” It’s not clear whether Republicans would have stripped the earmark out of the appropriations bill, as the measure was due for a final vote March 6. Fetterman told reporters he would support funding for the center again in fiscal year 2025.