After False Show of Solidarity, House GOPs Block LGBT Protections Bill

paul ryan
house.gov

Days after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, Republicans in the House of Representatives—several of whom failed to even acknowledge the LGBT community in the wake of the Orlando massacre—effectively blocked a bill that would have ensured federal contractors can't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sen. Patrick Maloney (D-NY), who is openly gay, reintroduced an amendment to a Defense Department spending bill that would have enforced a 2014 executive order protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors. The bill hits the House floor later this week, but Tuesday night the House Rules Committee decided not to greenlight Maloney's amendment. 

Maloney had previously, to no avail, introduced the amendment to a Department of Veterans Affairs appropriations bill and then to an Energy Department bill. The previous failures of Maloney's amendment led Speaker Paul Ryan to limit which amendments to spending bills could get votes.

Maloney had hoped, in the wake of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando Saturday, that the amendment would send a message of solidarity to the LGBT community.

“It’s hard to imagine that any act that is so horrific could lead to anything positive. But if we were going to do anything, it would be a very positive step to say that discrimination has no place in our law and to reaffirm the president’s actions in this area,” Maloney told The Hill. “Seems to me a pretty basic thing to do.” 

Well, when it comes to this Congress, any "basic thing to do" is basically impossible. To reiterate what some House Democrats chanted when the amendment was first voted down: "Shame! Shame! Shame!"

Before the Committee, Maloney argued in favor of the amendment, comparing the Orlando shooting to the shooting last year at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, which led to restrictions on displaying the Confederate flag.

“Because hate has no place in our flags, in our workplace, or in our country," he said. "And it should have no place in federal law.”

Meanwhile, Committee chairman Pete Sessions offered his "thoughts and prayers" in the wake of Orlando, only to mistakenly claim Tuesday that Pulse was not an LGBT space. 

"It was a young person's nightclub," he reportedly said, "And there were some [LGBT people] there, but it was mostly Latinos." Sessions's office later clarified his comments, but the only thing really clear here is the GOP's obstinacy in protecting the LGBT community and all Americans.

Immediately after Speaker Ryan called  a moment of silence on Monday, he ignored calls to revisit gun control legislation on the anniversary of the Charleston shooting, which is this Saturday.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

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