In April, Michigan state Sen. Lana Theis, a Republican, sent a fundraising email accusing her Democratic colleague state Sen. Mallory McMorrow of being a “groomer” who sexualized children. McMorrow then went on the attack, addressing Theis' accusation a now viral speech on the floor of the Michigan Senate.

“I am the biggest threat to your hollow, hateful scheme,” McMorrow said in her speech. “You can't claim that you are targeting marginalized kids in the name of quote ‘parental rights’ if another parent is standing up to say no.”

Throughout the speech, McMorrow repeatedly refers to herself as a “straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom.”

“It was very intentional, to kind of reclaim my own identity and take back an identity that has been used to hurt other people,” McMorrow said on Boston Public Radio Wednesday. “What I know is we're not angry, hateful people. We're moms, and we're not going to take it anymore.”

Accusations of "grooming" has become an increasingly common political tactic, in which conservatives falsely accuse advocates of LGBTQ rights of seeking to molest children. “They're creating wedges where wedges don't exist,” McMorrow said of the rhetoric. “They're scapegoating. They're trying to make you so fearful and angry towards other people that you don't notice that they don't care about you either.”

Instead, McMorrow seeks to shift the focus to pressing issues in her state and the country. “People who are different are not the reason why health care costs are high or why we haven't fixed the roads,” she said. “People aren't even going to notice the good policy work that we're offering if they can't hear past all of this noise.”

McMorrow said she has begun to a greater willingness to speak out against culture-war fueled attacks in the weeks following her speech. “We have seen more Democrats standing up and getting aggressive,” she said. “I have been at events in my district and the number of women, especially moms, who have walked up to me and said, ‘I'm so tired after the past few years, with school closures, trying to balance work and everything, but you made me feel like I can fight again.’”

The state senator said Americans cannot shy away from speaking out against "Trumpism" and conspiracy theories. “I think there's a tendency to not want to talk about it, but we can't, because it's being used and weaponized out in the open and it is creating real damage for people,” she said.

McMorrow also spoke out against the use of faith, particularly Christianity, to justify policies such as Florida’s "Parental Rights in Education" bill, nicknamed by LGBTQ advocates the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” and other legislation preventing education on LGBTQ and racial issues. She referenced a colleague in the state senate who used prayer to talk about “dark forces” influencing children.

“I was so offended by that use of prayer,” McMorrow said. She shared her own experiences with religion growing up, in which her priest chastised McMorrow’s mother for volunteering at soup kitchens on Sunday instead of attending Mass. The priest also tried to fine her mother because the soup kitchen was outside their parish.

“[Faith is] reaching out to those who are targeted and marginalized and have less,” she said. “I wanted to give space for people of faith, people like me, people who are Catholic and maybe don't feel like they have a place right now, to say, ‘No, this is our duty. This is how we express faith, through acts, through works and not through performative nonsense.’”

Despite the deep divides in U.S. politics, McMorrow, who flipped a Republican district when elected in 2018, maintains hope. “We organized, we built groups, we got out on doors, we got people like me elected here in Michigan,” she said. “We know how to do it. We can do it again. And that's what gives me hope, is people are energized and excited, and in a fun, ‘Let's get the minivan together and hop in, we're going to save democracy’ [way]. That's the energy that we need because that's what's at stake.”

She had a clear message for the millions of people who watched videos of her defending herself against bad faith political attacks: “Don't just watch a speech. Take action.”