Republicans on Capitol Hill are going to great lengths to block the mere consideration of a proposal that would protect gay, lesbian, and transgender Americans from discrimination in the workplace and marketplace.
On Tuesday night, the House Rules Committee decreed that an anti-LGBT discrimination amendment to an annual defense spending bill would not receive a vote on the floor. The amendment would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against citizens based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Last week, the committee blocked consideration of a similar measure to a legislative branch appropriations bill.
Since then, the gay community was targeted by an American gunmen in the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history, at the nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando, Fla. Forty-nine people were killed.
Although the rampage has rocked the country, it did not inspire a change of heart among GOP lawmakers when it comes to addressing discrimination.
The amendment was offered by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), who has attempted to tack the measure on to each appropriation bill considered so far in the House — forcing the GOP into awkward positions.
Last month, when Maloney moved to affix the amendment to a Veterans Affairs spending bill, it looked for a moment like he would be successful. A majority of members voted in favor of it. Then GOP leadership held the proceedings open and convinced several in their caucus to change their position to nay.
The following week, Maloney did succeed in attaching his amendment to an energy spending bill, only to watch as the very next day Republicans spiked that spending bill in order to prevent passage of the anti-discrimination rider.
Following those events, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) suggested he would lock down the amendment process moving forward. It was an about-face for the Speaker who had promised a return to “regular order” during the appropriations process, which allows any members to offer changes to spending bills being considered on the House floor.
Ryan claimed that the breaking from tradition was warranted since Democrats were “sabotaging appropriations” by trying to protect the gay community.
Since the mass murder in Orlando, Republicans have been criticized for attempting to erase the fact that it was a hate crime targeted at LGBT Americans. Instead, the GOP has seized on the shooter’s Afghan nationality and comments he made in a call with police during the massacre, in which he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. So far, authorities have yet to turn up any direct links between the killer and terrorist organizations abroad.
Speaking to the National Journal on Tuesday, the Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), went as far as to suggest that the Pulse nightclub wasn’t even a gay bar. “It was a young person’s nightclub, I’m told. And there were some [LGBT people] there, but it was mostly Latinos,” he said.
His staff later walked back those comments, noting that the venue had been hosting a “Latin Night” at the time of the shooting.