Republican Leaders Block LGBTQ Legislation Days After The Orlando Tragedy

If you’re going to identify as an ally, at least walk the walk as far as legislation goes. That’s why it’s total horse shit that Republicans offered saccharine solidarity to victims of this week’s mass shooting in an Orlando gay nightclub, only for them to prove otherwise in Congress. Mere days after the attack, House of Representative Republican leaders blocked a vote on LGBTQ legislation that aimed to ensure federal contractors couldn’t discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. They couldn’t even pretend to care about queer Americans for a few days.

Openly gay New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney proposed the bill as a way to enact positive steps towards eradicating future acts of terrorism and hate crimes, both of which the Orlando shooting has been labelled. Had the amendment passed this week, a 2014 executive order would have been enforced, prohibiting the government from rewarding employees for acts of gender or sexual discrimination (it’s ridiculous that this is even still a discussion, but alas).

Given Republicans’ previous track record of regarding members of the LGBT community as second-class citizens, Maloney does not have high hopes for the bill to take effect. But with 49 dead and 53 injured as the result of the second most deadly terrorist attack on American soil after 9/11, the pervasive, hateful ideology has become a nationwide epidemic, and unsafe for anyone who doesn’t identify as a cisgender straight person.

“It’s hard to imagine that any act that is so horrific could lead to anything positive. 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,” Maloney told The Hill. “Seems to me a pretty basic thing to do.”

Many Republican politicians didn’t acknowledge that the Orlando tragedy was an attack on the LGBTQ community, but a few did, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who tweeted: “The #LGBT community has been attacked for who they are.”

As a pathetically ignorant defense for blocking votes, House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions falsely claimed Pulse, the site of the mass shooting, was not in fact a gay club, but a Latino club. Oh, because targeting a sect of people based on their culture and nationality is less bigoted than discriminating against them for their identity and orientation? Pulse is in fact an LGBTQ club that happened to have a “Latino night” the night of the shooting.

Last week, Ryan planned to limit the amount of amendments Democrats can make on any given bill to avoid resurfacing contentious debates during an election year. Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, told The Washington Post: “Apparently, discriminating against the LGBT community is more important to the Republican leadership than an open and transparent amendment process.”

Blocking this vote makes it abundantly clear that Republican leaders don’t support or protect LGBTQ Americans, even after this horrific attack on their community. What will it take to open their eyes to the very real discrimination queer Americans face? Apparently 49 innocent lives lost wasn’t enough. Offering prayers and sympathy after a mass shooting on a specific group doesn’t change anything — legislation could.

There are measures you can take if you’re feeling really angry right now: go outside, find a bag of trash, pretend it’s Trump’s face, and light it on fire. Or actively spreading love in your community and advocated for LGBTQ rights works too. Remember, the government can never take that away from you.