Democrats erupted in unrestrained anger on the floor of the United States House of Representatives as Republicans defeated their amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, a must-pass defense funding bill. Numerous outlets are already slamming the GOP’s move as “anti-gay” and bolstering the melodramatic outcry.
New York Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, an openly gay Democrat, proposed the amendment in response to an earlier Republican amendment already in the legislation. The Republican amendment is itself a response to President Obama’s 2014 executive order forcing a bill which never made it to the House floor, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Oklahoma Representative Steve Russell proposed the Republican amendment to provide exemptions to Obama’s executive order. The amendment is far from ground-breaking. It merely states the the federal government shall grant exemptions to “any religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution, or religious society that is a recipient of or offeror for a Federal Government contract, subcontract, grant, purchase order, or cooperative agreement.”
It then references already settled law, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as the basis for such protections. This amendment is restating the rights of faith-based organizations to the “free exercise of religion,” even if they receive federal funds or have contracts with the federal government.
Some Democrats, such as California Representative Mark Takano, voted against the funding bill merely because it included this exemption for religious organizations. He announced a “twitter rant” (his own words) about this “anti-LGBT language.”
At 2am on Apr 28, an amdt. sponsored by @RepRussell was slipped into NDAA allowing fed contractors to discriminate against LGBT ppl. (1/x)
— Mark Takano (@RepMarkTakano) May 18, 2016
It gives religious organizations the right to fire people just because they’re LGBT, even if those orgs receive taxpayer money… (2/x)
— Mark Takano (@RepMarkTakano) May 18, 2016
Dems and a few GOP have raised extremely strong objections, but the provision is still in the NDAA bill we are voting on tonight. (3/x) — Mark Takano (@RepMarkTakano) May 18, 2016
So now, voting to fund our nat’l defense means voting to force taxpayers to subsidize LGBT discrimination. But it’s worse than that…(4/x) — Mark Takano (@RepMarkTakano) May 18, 2016
Democrats have chosen to force these two issues to loggerheads — religious organizations cannot make their own hiring and firing decisions based on their own principles, if those decisions might skew against a group of people whom Democrats wish to make a protected class.
When Republicans disagree, and choose to take a stand for religious freedom as based in the First Amendment, Democrats will cause a scene.
Next Page: Why the voting got so heated, and who the real “bigots” are.
The voting was tense, as the Associated Press reported.
The vote for Maloney’s amendment peaked at 217, one short of the majority needed for passage, before it began a slow, sporadic decline. Members of the Republican whip team, whose job is to round up needed votes, were stalking the House chamber’s aisles where GOP lawmakers seat, openly pleading for support.
“Need two more votes,” Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., one of the GOP whips, said loudly as he prowled among Republicans.
The time on the clock ran out with the Democrat amendment ahead, but the Republican whips got some of their people into shape. Voting technically does not end until the gavel comes down. At that time, the Democrats started chanting, “Shame! Shame! Shame!”
The final vote was 212 to 213. Democrats did not mince words.
“This reveals them for who they are,” declared New York Rep. Steve Israel. “They are bigots. They are haters.”
“They literally snatched discrimination out of the jaws of equality,” Maloney told reporters after the vote. “We won this vote,” the Democrat declared, arguing that “Kevin McCarthy was personally twisting arms on the floor….It was disgraceful.”
Maloney shouldn’t worry. Already, outlets have blasted the Republicans’ “anti-gay” language and vilified them for attacking “LGBT rights.” Never mind that some Christian organizations, such as colleges which receive federal grants and funding, should have the right to operate according to their beliefs. Never mind that there is another side to the issue. No, Democrats are so certain they are right and media outlets seem unwilling to consider another angle.
Republicans are not giving up. Earlier today, Indiana Representative Luke Messer proposed a law to block President Obama’s order that schools allow transgender people to use the restroom of their choice. Black conservative activists are also blasting the administration for comparing the transgender bathroom issue with the civil rights movement, and the North Carolina law with white-supremacist laws.
Perhaps Maloney should take a closer look at who the “bigots” and the “haters” really are.