Republicans wanted to add language that specifically allows for discrimination against LGBTQ individuals to an anti-discrimination bill.
House Democrats on Friday passed the historic Equality Act, a bill that bans discrimination "on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes" — basically enshrining into law that LGBTQ Americans have the same rights as everybody else.
But only eight Republicans voted for the bill — and the rest did everything within their power to try and tank it, attempting to add two dozen amendments that would explicitly allow people to cite religion in order to discriminate against the LGBTQ community.
The Republican amendments range in their level of mean-spiritedness and vitriol.
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) had some of the most egregious attempted additions.
Lesko submitted one amendment that sought to change the bill's name from the Equality Act to the "Forfeiting Women's Rights Act." The title stems from Republicans' claims that allowing transgender individuals to use restrooms of the gender they identify with is somehow an affront to women.
Another Lesko amendment would protect parents from any custody battles if the parents question their child's "gender identity decisions and changes."
Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) is the author of another egregious amendment that explicitly states that religious establishments are allowed to "discriminate based on sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity)." Why that would ever be included in a bill with an intended purpose to ban discrimination is hard to fathom.
Of course, given House Republicans are in the minority, none of these amendments had any chance of actually passing.
Instead, Republicans will likely use the fact that the amendments weren't added to excuse their votes against a long-overdue, common-sense bill that guarantees LGBTQ Americans the same rights that the rest of Americans have had for decades.
It's a poor excuse, though. Americans deserve equal rights, as the Constitution lays out. And religion is not a shield to be used to allow for blatant discrimination.
Democrats understand this, which is why they passed the Equality Act. Republicans, on the other hand, continue to be on the wrong side of history.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.