Thursday, May 19, 2016

House GOP strikes down LGBT rights bill

Today, a LGBT rights amendment sponsored by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-NY was struck down in the House of Representatives following a narrow vote. Initially, the amendment had enough votes to pass at 217 in favor. Following a time extension, seven Republican representatives changed their vote, resulting in the amendment failing 213 to 212. After the result was announced, Democrats repeatedly chanted "Shame" - check out a video here:

This is clearly a step backwards for LGBT rights, especially following the series of recent advances for said cause. As usual, those opposed to the measure cited the protection of religious freedom as their justification. Additionally, the Republican whip team blatantly used the time extension to scrounge up more votes - practices that I find quite unpleasant. It's a practical move that I can respect, but that doesn't stop me from finding it objectionable.

What kind of symbolic meaning does this vote have? What does it mean for LGBT rights? How does this reflect on the character of the Republican representatives and party as a whole? Was the Democrats' display of emotion appropriate?



Lea Tan said...

This is definitely not something I agree with either, but at the same time the job of the Republican party whip is to make as many Republican representatives as possible vote along party lines, and that was what the whip did. Because the vote was so close and the amendment was barely shut down, I don't think it means too much for LGBT rights - it's a shame that this amendment was not passed, but in the bigger picture LGBT rights are still increasing and gaining support in general. Nevertheless, I do think this will cause more party tension and will spark a debate about the ties between LGBT rights and politics, and will probably cause a lot of negative feelings from the LGBT community towards the Republican party. Because I support LGBT rights, I do think that the Democrat response was justified, even if it was somewhat unprofessional. I think this vote symbolizes the strong influence of politics and partisanship when dealing with gay rights, and clearly shows how divided people are on the subject.

Anonymous said...

Because of the Democratic stance on LGBT rights, I think their reaction was not out of the blue. I do not think that this will set back the LGBT rights progression very much because of the apparent support in the House from Democrats and the current legal status of gay marriage in the US. However, this also shows that the fight is not over, legalizing gay marriage was only a part of the struggle. There are always going to be forces that oppose, but gay rights has enough support now to fight back.

Scott Liu said...

Display of emotion in politics is unfortunate due to the fact that we desire rational policymakers. However, it happens to everyone, and it is an unfortunate consequence of being human. As for what it means of the status of politicians and LGBT rights. Even though we have made progress, the complete acceptance of LGBT policies was not completely accepted by the Democratic platform until recently; Obama used to consider the LGBT rights platform as a liability to the platform, rather than a benefit. It is not surprising that attitudes are polarized. It is important to realize that we live in a very liberal area, and therefore we take LGBT rights to be an obvious and natural to accept. This is not the case in a large portion of the country, and it is important to think about this context. Thank you Eric for mentioning this topic because we often get so comfortable living where these rights are assumed natural and our perception becomes skewed. It is important to recalibrate every now and then.

Crystal Lee said...

I agree with Lea, but I have to wonder–what were those initially more liberal-voting Republicans' motives? The first and most obvious one would be ideology, of course, and the other one I can think of is re-election. Beyond the possible backlash to bills like North Carolina's HB2 among Republican constituents, especially the less socially conservative ones (focusing on fiscal conservatism), Donald Trump's own influence might be considered here. As Trump appears to be increasingly accepted by the establishment, there will no doubt be a few Republican candidates for other offices who seek to differentiate themselves from him and thus win that side of the vote (and perhaps even some of the Democratic vote). I think this could be the beginning of that split, although this is, of course, a very cold and calculating way to consider the all-too-human issue of LGBTQ rights.
I brought up motives because I think they could influence the party whip's own power. After all, if these Republicans had purely ideological motives, and if those beliefs were strong, then they might be unswayed by a party whip's deals and offers. However, if re-election/other political reasons were being considered, it might explain the shift in the Republican vote.

Andrew Wang said...

As long as there are 33 more Republicans than there are Democrats in Senate, Democrats will most likely not be able to pass any legislation. Especially with the problems surrounding nominating Merrick Garland as a new Supreme Court nominee. This trend would probably continue as the elections get more and more heated between the Democrat and Republican Nominees.

Jonathan Liu said...

I actually think this is a pretty big deal for LGBTQ rights, if we look at the history of amendments. After the ERA came close to being passed, upon reintroduction the passion to support it and the amount of people supporting it dwindled, and the chance to pass it became even smaller than before. I think it'll be the same with this amendment. Those votes that were lost to the against side of the House will probably never be won back, and other Republicans will, in fear of party backlash, vote against it as well. As a result, I unfortunately find it hard to see this happening. Of course, this doesn't mean there's no hope for LGBTQ rights -- women got suffrage, after all -- I just think that an actual amendment has become significantly less likely to occur.
On the other hand, the 29 Republicans backing the amendment is a good sign for the fight as a whole. With supreme court decisions in favor of their rights, I find it hard to believe that LGBTQ rights aren't going to happen; I just believe this will substantially slow them down.

Dhruv Rohatgi said...

I think that this shows how closed minded some republicans are. For some reason they do not support the LGBT community and the strike down of this amendment shows that. I do agree with the democrats that it is a shame that the US government is closed minded and not really open to different ways of life. I wonder if the republicans faced pressure from a party whip to vote against the bill or whether they truly disapprove of the amendment. I think this shows the conservative ideology, and not wanting much change, accurately in the republican party. Going off Scott's point, we live in an area of the world that is much more accepting than others. This and North Carolina are probably both eye openers to us all since we take acceptance for granted.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Eric for your post. I support Jonathan's position that the LGBT rights amendment is a big deal; a few steps towards minority rights can potentially lead to a chain reaction. As I read through the article, I personally felt very disappointed by the Republicans that want to shut down the bill, yet at the same time, I'm happy for the Republican whip, as he was able to change the outcome of the bill by a narrow margin of one vote. Though I disagree with the implication of the whip's action, having this type of unity is admirable. In addition, I do not approve of the Democrats shouting "shame" after the bill was not passed. The Republicans have all the right to shut down a bill without being shouted at.

Responding to Jonathan's point that the passion and support for LGBTQ rights may dwindle as was the case for the ERA, I believe that after this upcoming election, representatives and senators will be interested in the topic once more. I believe that the next Congress will increase the Democratic Party's seats, partially and hopefully explained through presidential coattails; however, I do not believe that the Democrats can gain a majority in the House. Here is an interesting article that discusses the likelihood of the Democrats winning a majority in the House in 2016:

What do you think is the most effective way to push for LGBT rights?
How do you think the 2016 election will change the way the federal government views the LGBT community, if at all?

Anonymous said...

Personally I would really like to know what the bill was about, and so more background about the bill itself. All I know is it is a bill that advocates something for LGBT.

The vote itself to me has little symbolism. It may show that there are more people than we thought, out there who are unsupportive of gay rights To me the fact that there were congressmen shouting shame, has more of a symbolic meaning. To me it shows how childish some of our representatives actually are. It also shows me conservative many congress are, and are thus closed minded to anything that has to do with change. Which to me and I feel like everyone else, is very disappointing and depressing.

The only thing that I can make a guess at for the future of gay rights, is it will be a lot more difficult to pass legislation that advocates for gay rights within congress. It also leads me to believe that there are still many people out there who are anti gay rights, which tells me it will take longer for LGBT members to be truly equal within the United States.