by Charlotte McConnell
I cannot fully celebrate the passing of the Equality Act this past Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives. HR 5, also known as the Equality Act, is a bill to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes.” You can read the full text here.
June 28, 2019 will mark 50 years since the Stonewall riots. This was a catalyst for the start of the gay rights movement. Marriage equality was declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2015. Other than that, there are no federal laws that protect the rights of our LGBT community.
Equal rights should not be a partisan issue. Many LGBTQ people face discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodation. LGBTQ students face high rates of bullying and suicidal ideation. Their rights are being openly debated, which can have a negative impact on youth, especially if they, or members of their family, identify as LGBTQ. The majority of Americans, including Republicans, support LGBTQ rights. You can read more about that here.
Friday’s U.S. House vote on the Equality Act was 236 for and 173 against. All 173 votes against the Equality Act were from Republicans. [note: every Virginia Republican in the U.S. House voted no] Only 8 Republicans voted for this bill. The Republicans who voted for the Equality Act include Brian Fitzpatrick, John Katko, Susan W. Brooks, Mario Diaz-Balart, Will Hurd, Tom Reed, Elise Stefanik, and Greg Walden. Please tweet your thanks @RepBrianFitz @RepJohnKatko @SusanWBrooks @MarioDB @HurdOnTheHill @TomReedCongress @RepStefanik @repgregwalden
23 U.S. Representatives abstained from voting on the Equality Act. Of those who did not vote, 7 were Democrats. Three of those Democrats who abstained are seeking the 2020 presidential nomination. They are Seth Moulton, Tim Ryan, and Eric Swalwell. If you are running for President and cannot vote for the Equality Act, you should not be seeking the Democratic nomination for president. The other Democrats who did not vote included Max Rose, Collin Peterson, Debbie Dingell [UPDATE 5/20: Rep. Dingell’s Chief of Staff emailed, the following: “On Friday morning, Mrs. Dingell traveled to Lansing, Michigan to stand in for John Dingell’s induction into the Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor. As the last WWII veteran in Congress, this event has been in the works for years and he had been planning to attend before he passed away earlier this year. She inserted these remarks into the Congressional Record to make it known that she fully supports the Equality Act and legal safeguards it provides against discrimination. ‘Mrs. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 5, the Equality Act. All Americans, regardless of background, should have the ability to live their lives with dignity and free from discrimination. Equal treatment under the law is a fundamental American principle, and this important legislation provides legal safeguards against discrimination for LGBTQ individuals. This is historic civil rights legislation that the House is considering today. Specifically, it would modify existing civil rights law to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans, including protections against discrimination in employment, housing, access to public places, federal funding, credit, education, and jury service. As an original cosponsor of the Equality Act, I strongly support its final passage. I am unfortunately not able to attend today’s important vote, but I am proud to support H.R. 5 and would have voted in favor of this bill.’ https://www.congress.gov/116/crec/2019/05/17/CREC-2019-05-17-house.pdf (Page H3948)”], and Jim Clyburn.
Please tweet these representatives to state your disappointment in not voting on Friday and ask them to explain why they did not vote.@sethmoulton @RepTimRyan @ericswalwell @collinpeterson @RepMaxRose
I would like to remind you that supporting LGBT rights is part of the Democratic Party platform. It states:
“We believe in protecting civil liberties and guaranteeing civil rights and voting rights, women’s rights and workers’ rights, LGBT rights, and rights for people with disabilities…
We will also fight for comprehensive federal non-discrimination protections for all LGBT Americans, to guarantee equal rights in areas such as housing, employment, public accommodations, credit, jury service, education, and federal funding. We will oppose all state efforts to discriminate against LGBT individuals, including legislation that restricts the right to access public spaces. We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate. We will combat LGBT youth homelessness and improve school climates. We will support LGBT elders, ensure access to necessary health care, and protect LGBT people from violence—including ending the crisis of violence against transgender Americans. We will also promote LGBT human rights and ensure America’s foreign policy is inclusive of LGBT people around the world.”
If you cannot support our LGBTQ community and vote in their favor for basic human rights, you are not a Democrat. Period.