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#Shame: House Leaders Play Shady Games on House Floor to Torpedo LGBT Non-Discrimination Amendment

by Brandon Lorenz May 19, 2016

Today, HRC blasted House leadership for supporting anti-LGBT lawmakers who would invalidate President Obama's Executive Order protecting LGBT Americans from discrimination. The House leadership held a vote open on the floor longer than permitted to flip seven Republican votes and kill an amendment from Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) that would ensure that funds from an appropriations bill cannot be used to discriminate against LGBT workers. While 36 Republicans initially voted for the amendment, seven Republicans reversed their votes on the floor, causing the amendment to fail on the floor by one vote.

“Today the House Republican leadership abused the voting procedures to twist arms and flip votes to deny LGBT people equal protections under the law,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “The House today voted against the seven in ten Americans who support legal protections for LGBT people. A handful of House members shamefully changed their votes, enabled their leaders who want to write discrimination into federal law, and left LGBT Americans at risk for being fired or denied a job for who they are or who they love.”

House Members chanted “shame” during the extended vote, which went well beyond the allotted time while leadership worked to flip votes.

This vote comes the day after a contentious debate in the House of Representatives over an amendment included in the National Defense Authorization Act, known as the Russell Amendment. The Russell Amendment would allow sweeping taxpayer-funded discrimination. A bipartisan group of Representatives, led by Reps. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Adam Smith (D-WA) filed an amendment to strip this anti-LGBT provision, but the House Rules Committee -- an arm of House Republican Leadership -- rejected the bipartisan amendment, refusing to allow debate or a vote on the House floor.

In July 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order 13672, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Maloney Amendment says that no funds from the bill can be used to contract with companies that aren’t in compliance with this executive order.

A nearly identical amendment passed last year in the House on a bill to fund the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. That amendment, offered by Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) received huge bipartisan support, with 60 Republicans voting yes -- including Rep. Paul Ryan (before he was Speaker). Approximately 30 House Republicans who voted for equal rights last year, flip-flopped on the vote today.

A last-ditch effort by House Democrats to strip the amendment failed along nearly party lines on a procedural vote. Rep. Maloney gave an impassioned speech, saying “This is about whether we will reaffirm equal right or rationalize discrimination. When my husband and I got married after waiting 22 years, so many of you expressed your support. Will you now look me in the eye and say it would be okay for me to lose my job over it?”

Brandon Lorenz
Brandon Lorenz


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