Fighting back against MAGA’s attacks on equality

Boston MA lgbtq rights rally city hall plaza rainbow transgender pride flags Congressman Jim McGovern
Boston MA lgbtq rights rally city hall plaza rainbow transgender pride flags Congressman Jim McGovern

It’s no secret that Republicans’ internal chaos has made the 118th Congress the least-productive Congress in modern history. Because of House Republicans’ inability to govern, we’ve only narrowly avoided government shutdowns and defaulting on our national debt. The lack of productivity of the Republican majority isn’t surprising to me. As the Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, I’ve had a front-row seat to House Republicans’ priorities, and let me tell you—it isn’t pretty. My time on the Rules Committee this Congress has made clear that Republicans are more obsessed with attacking the LGBTQI+ community than working to address the challenges facing all Americans.

For those who are unfamiliar, the Rules Committee plays a critical role in deciding what gets voted on the floor. Any bill that isn’t popular enough to receive support from two-thirds of the House has to go through the Rules Committee to be passed by a simple majority of the House. In committee, we set the rules for how a bill is debated and voted on by the full House, including which amendments will get a vote in the chamber. In the last nine months, the Rules Committee hasn’t considered a single bill signed into law. In fact, under Republican control, this has been one of the most ineffective, incompetent sessions of Congress in the history of our country.

When Democrats were in charge, and I was the Chair of the Rules Committee last Congress, I took my responsibility to serve the American people seriously. I helped bring critical bills to the floor, like the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. As a committed ally to the LGBTQI+ community, I was honored to help bring legislation to protect the LGBTQI+ community, like the Respect for Marriage Act and the Equality Act, to the floor. With the pro-equality majority last Congress, I consistently worked to strengthen protections for every American, regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, or sex characteristics—including intersex traits.

Now, with anti-equality Republicans in control, I’ve seen the majority on the Rules Committee work overtime to appease the MAGA extremists. In 2023, these right-wing Republicans, many of whom are members of the House Freedom Caucus, vowed to vote down any bills that weren’t exactly what they wanted. They consistently wished to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ people.

I was appalled to see these right-wing extremists file more than 95 anti-LGBTQI+ amendments to bills going to the floor in 2023. To make matters worse, Republicans on the Rules Committee advanced more than 50 anti-LGBTQI+ bills and amendments to the House floor while blocking our pro-equality amendments. My Democratic colleagues and I repeatedly tried to force votes by the full House on these amendments. I have no problem working hard to defeat awful, cruel amendments in the House. But every time, Republicans refused to even bring our pro-equality amendments up for a vote.

Some of the most egregious and morally repulsive attacks we saw by Republicans were aimed at the transgender community, specifically trans youth. They voted to require schools to forcibly out trans students and ban trans girls as young as kindergarten—yes, kindergarten—from playing on school sports teams with their friends. They also passed amendments by anti-equality Representatives to the National Defense Authorization Act to ban coverage of medically necessary gender-affirming care for servicemembers. Despite every major medical and mental health association in the United States supporting age-appropriate gender-affirming care, Republicans consistently spread disinformation to appease the most extreme parts of their base.

Every single one of my colleagues in the United States House represents a district that includes members of the LGBTQI+ community. I don’t know how they can justify their votes to put themselves between someone and the scientifically proven, medically necessary care prescribed by a doctor. It’s outrageous, it’s offensive, and it shows that they’re only interested in being bullies and bigots.

We also saw dozens of anti-equality amendments to Republicans’ initial hyper-partisan government funding bills. Some of these amendments targeted medically necessary care and encouraged discrimination against LGBTQI+ people. Two other amendments seemed to be desperate cries for attention in the media, from cutting openly gay Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s salary to $1 to banning Pride Month celebrations by the Department of Defense. Republicans seem to just be throwing their cruel, anti-equality gimmicks at a wall and seeing what sticks.

These are just a handful of the harmful votes Republicans held last year. The Congressional Equality Caucus has published an entire report to keep track of all the anti-equality attacks we saw last year; it’s called OBSESSED: House Republicans’ Relentless Attacks Against the LGBTQI+ Community in 2023.

As a founding Member and Vice Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, I am fully committed to protecting the LGBTQI+ community and advancing a pro-equality agenda. If 2023 taught us anything, we have a lot of work to do in 2024 and beyond. I encourage everyone to read the Equality Caucus’s report at Republicans’ attacks against the LGBTQI+ community aren’t going to stop anytime soon, and the public must know how Republicans are spending their time in Congress.

Despite these attacks, know that many of us won’t sit quietly as Republicans target the LGBTQI+ community. I’m proud to work with the largest caucus in the United States Congress toward equality because I know that to keep America moving forward, we must be inclusive of the LGBTQI+ community.

Congressman James “Jim” McGovern represents the Massachusetts’s 2nd congressional district and is a Founding Member and a Vice Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus.

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