BY STAFF | The U.S. House of Representatives sounded like an ACT-UP demonstration today when members began chanting “Shame, shame, shame,” after Republican members stealthily defeated a measure that would have protected the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of government contractors.
An amendment to the veterans and military construction spending bill that had been introduced by New York Democrat Sean Maloney had been expected to pass.
But Paul Ryan extended the time allowed for the vote as leaders, including California’s Darrel Issa, lobbied party members to change their vote. Issa was instrumental in convincing Jeff Denham, David Valadao and Mimi Walters of California to vote against the measure and ensuring the measure’s defeat.
It was defeated after a 213 to 212 vote.
29 Republicans joined a unified Democratic House. There were 8 abstentions: three Republicans and five Democrats.
The vote comes less than a week after the Obama administration, the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice issued a progressive set of guidelines regarding transgender issues.
“House Republicans are so committed to discriminating against LGBT Americans, that they broke regular order to force their members to reverse their votes and support Republicans’ bigotry,” said Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader.
Republicans invoked “religious freedom” ideology to explain their actions.
The vote came hours after the House passed a $602 billion defense bill that included “religious freedom” language permitting government contractors to discriminate against LGBT people.