Just days after a gunman opened fire at an iconic LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando—an act of violence described by many as a hate crime—House Republicans blocked a vote on a bill that would bar anti-LGBTQ discrimination by federal contractors.
The Hill explains:
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), who is gay, filed an amendment to a Defense Department spending bill that would enforce a 2014 executive order prohibiting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people. The Defense bill is slated to hit the House floor this week, in the aftermath of the attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando.
But the House Rules Committee, which serves as an arm of majority leadership in deciding how legislation is considered on the floor, did not green-light Maloney’s amendment for a vote Tuesday night.
Maloney had hoped that to assert workplace protections for LGBTQ people in the wake of Sunday's attack would signal solidarity with those who were targeted—much like laws restricting the display of the Confederate flag, passed in the wake of last year's shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
"It's hard to imagine that any act that is so horrific could lead to anything positive," Maloney told The Hill. "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. Seems to me a pretty basic thing to do."
He lauded lawmakers who took symbolic stands in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting, saying: "They also responded by acting and by recognizing that symbols and language matter. Because hate has no place in our flags, in our workplace, or in our country. And it should have no place in federal law."
After the vote, Maloney tweeted:
As an #LGBT American I'm at a loss. Our community suffers tremendous loss, now GOP lawmakers refuse to even allow a vote.
— Sean Patrick Maloney (@RepSeanMaloney) June 15, 2016
In another display of GOP tone-deafness, when asked by a National Journal reporter whether the Orlando shooting changed his political "calculation" on the Maloney amendment, House Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) denied that the Pulse nightclub had anything to do with the LGBTQ community.
“It was a young person’s nightclub, I’m told. And there were some [LGBT ppl] there, but it was mostly Latinos” https://t.co/c5qvdSk0kF
— Daniel Newhauser (@dnewhauser) June 14, 2016
In a post at The New Civil Rights Movement, David Badash noted that Sessions "is one of the most anti-LGBT and most conservative members of Congress," having "repeatedly voted for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, voted to ban gay adoptions, voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which included LGBT protections, voted against prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation, voted to 'protect' anti-same-sex marriage opinions as free speech, and voted to make a state's definition of marriage supersede federal law on same-sex marriage."
Since the attack in Florida, many have drawn attention to how such anti-LGBTQ votes have fomented fertile ground for hate.
On social media, the latest display of hypocrisy was roundly denounced.
Congressman Pete Sessions so hates LGBT people that he is going to pretend that Pulse wasn't a gay night club https://t.co/OJ6HGYMo4X
— Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis) June 15, 2016
— Paul J Gibler (@pauljgibler) June 15, 2016
— Donna Bowman (@donnadb) June 15, 2016
— The Good Idea Fairy (@donachaidh) June 15, 2016
— thetypebeast (@thetypebeast) June 15, 2016