Really? We Have To Rely On Susan Collins To Pass The LGBTQ+ Equality Act?
Rep. David Cicilline from Rhode Island reintroduced the Equality Act last week in the House of Representatives, where a vote is expected Thursday. The legislation would expand on the Supreme Court ruling from last July and provide the first federal discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people — specifically prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces, public funding, and jury service. It's about damn time.
"In 2021, every American should be treated with respect and dignity," Cicilline, who has introduced the bill every year since 2015, said in a statement. "Yet, in most states, LGBTQ people can be discriminated against because of who they are, or who they love. It is past time for that to change."
The Equality Act passed in 2019 with a 236-173 vote. A whopping eight Republicans agreed that LGBTQ+ people were still Americans. Then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell never took up the bill, condemning it to that legislative graveyard he found so hilarious. But Democrats control the Senate now ... sort of, and at long last the bill can receive a vote. Hooray!
Unfortunately, Democrats might have to spend time reassuring Republicans that the bill doesn't have cooties.
"I have not read the bill," said Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) just as she was entering the Senate elevator.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who may be a 2024 presidential contender, expressed similar ignorance.
"I don't know what's in it," Rubio said.
Rubio doesn't know what's in the Equality Act? It's not like shepherd's pie, which, despite the tease, contains no actual shepherds. Republicans are the ones who hide evil agendas in benignly titled packages. They call union-busting legislation “right to work." Who doesn't want to work! Democrats usually suck at snappy titles, but Equality Act is straight to the point.
Asked if anyone has reached out to him about the legislation, Rubio said, "No one's talked to me about it."
No one has probably talked to Rubio because he's an idiot. He's also openly antagonistic to LGBTQ+ rights. Two months after a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Rubio spoke to a bunch of Christian conservative bigots and warned them about the threat of gay intolerance. We assume he's a “no" on the Equality Act.
But we don't need Little Marco. We've got Big Sue Collins (I call her “Big Sue"). She's a “moderate" Republican who loves the gays! Unfortunately, the Maine senator (c'mon, Maine!) isn't up for co-sponsoring the Equality Act, which she did in 2019 when she was facing re-election. But this isn't about politics. She claims there are “certain provisions of the Equality Act which needed revision."
Throwing some veiled criticism at the Human Rights Campaign, which declined to endorse her in 2020 as it had done in previous elections, Collins added, "Unfortunately the commitments that were made to me were not [given] last year."
What kind of gangster shit is this? Yes, the Human Rights Campaign supported Democrat Sara Gideon, but they had reasons, such as Collins's active support of powerful anti-LGBTQ+ figures. Here's how HRC President Alphonso David politely dismissed Senator Fake Moderate.
Despite Susan Collins' record of support on certain key LGBTQ issues, her support of Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump's agenda, endorsement of Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court and failure to hold Donald Trump accountable, is simply untenable.
Collins shouldn't hold a grudge against all LGBTQ+ people just because the HRC showed her the back of its hand. That's fucked up. We'd give her the benefit of the doubt and assume this is all about those vague “provisions" that need revision, but we're not stupid.
She hasn't said she won't vote for the Equality Act, but refusing to co-sponsor the bill isn't encouraging. Senators usually like taking credit for things. Collins is a key vote if Democrats want to reach a 60-vote filibuster majority. Apparently equality requires bipartisan compromise, and neither Joe Manchin nor Kyrsten Sinema will consider nuking the Democrat Face Puncher 9000. Sinema, who is the Senate's first openly bisexual member, released a statement reaffirming her support for the Democrat Face Puncher 9000 that's suitable for framing in a West Wing episode.
.@SenatorSinema is doubling down on her support of the #filibuster in emails to constituents today. 🧵 https://t.co/uYtv4W0pGg— Sarah Dohl (@Sarah Dohl)1614098457.0
SENATOR DONNA MOSS: I believe the Senate has a responsibility to put politics aside and fully consider, debate, and reach compromise on legislative issues that will affect all Americans. Therefore, I support the 60-vote threshold for all Senate actions. Debate on bills should be a bipartisan process that takes into account the views of all Americans, not just those of one political party.
The arbitrary 60-vote threshold for legislation (not all Senate actions, as Republicans nuked the judicial filibuster for SCOTUS nominees after the Democrats nuked it for judicial appointments) doesn't ensure a “bipartisan process" because it's conceivable a single party could have 60 votes by themselves, as Democrats did for about eight minutes in 2009. Bills passed with 60 votes from the same party is not suddenly more bipartisan or reflective of consensus than a bill passed by 48 Democrats and three Republicans.
Republicans won't use the Democrat Face Puncher 9000 to “fully consider and debate" the Equality Act. They'll just kill it. This devotion to an idealized process is cold comfort for LGBTQ+ Americans at risk of losing their jobs, homes, and even their ability to exist in public. Sinema might consider passing the Equality Act or the Voting Rights Act under the only circumstances possible a “short-term legislative gain," but I couldn't disagree more.
Anyway, this is supposedly a leftwing commie blog, so in conclusion, Susan Collins and the entire GOP sucks. There, that's better.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."