On Friday, Democrats successfully passed a piece of House legislation banning discrimination on the basis of sex, gender and sexual orientation. It seems like a decent accomplishment, overdue in fact, as the bill was worded primarily to preserve the rights of LGBTQ Americans.
It seemed like it would be the sort of non-controversial thing that even Republicans could get on board with and vote for, even if it was a symbolic gesture and the bill had no chance of becoming law – some way they could argue that they aren’t the out of touch bigots we’ve come to expect from their portrayals in the media, the behavior of their constituents, and the candidates they’ve run. After all, Donald Trump’s bigotry was the main stated reason so many prominent conservatives tried to distance themselves from Trump back in 2016.
The majority of House Republicans failed to get that memo, voting against the bill. Senator Mike Lee in particular came out swinging against it, with a statement calling the new bill “counterproductive.” According to Lee, Americans are becoming more tolerant every day, so this bill would actually pit communities against each other. This is of course, exactly the opposite of how anything works – but what’s interesting is how Lee’s statement even seems to contradict the typical Republican talking points about how it’s hard to be a conservative Christian in America or a white single male on a college campus. Lee’s statement is probably the quickest way to dismiss these ridiculous claims for what they are.
House Republicans who voted against the bill tried to amend it to make exceptions to allow religious establishments to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Not only did Republicans show their true colors in how they voted, it’s partly because of Donald Trump and his transgender military ban that such a bill was even needed. As Republicans head into 2020, expect them to suddenly pretend they care about tolerance – especially as they look to recruit more women and candidates of color to run for office. When that happens, remember the Equality Act and how they voted, and that they tried to push at least 24 different poison pill amendments into the bill.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making