Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced on Monday that he will not vote in favor of the Equality Act, the legislation that would boost civil rights protection for LGBTQ people. Manchin will be the only Democratic senator voting against the legislation. This is not surprising, thanks to how much Joe Manchin sucks.
Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island introduced the Equality Act, also known as House Resolution 5, last week in conjunction with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The bill expands the federal definitions of discrimination, with a focus on LGBTQ issues. For instance, the legislation cites the necessity for protections against anti-LGBTQ housing discrimination, notes the prevalence of poverty among transgender women, and obliquely references the ongoing attempt by state legislatures to encase “discrimination in securing access to public accommodations.”
In a statement published to his website on Monday, Manchin cited issues with the lack of local control for public school officials when it comes to a transitioning student as the reason he wouldn’t approve the bill:
I strongly support equality for all people and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. No one should be afraid of losing their job or losing their housing because of their sexual orientation. After speaking with local education officials in West Virginia, I am not convinced that the Equality Act as written provides sufficient guidance to the local officials who will be responsible for implementing it, particularly with respect to students transitioning between genders in public schools. I will continue working with the sponsors of the bill to build broad bipartisan support and find a viable path forward for these critical protections so that I can vote in support of this bill.
Manchin will be one of just two congressional Democrats that will not provide their support, as Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois is the only House Democrat that has not signed on to the bill as a co-sponsor. As Manchin did in his statement, Lipinski said that of course he believes “LGBTQ people should be protected from discrimination,” right before he cited a conflict with his belief in religious freedom (to be used as a cover for discrimination) as the reason he wouldn’t join the rest of his colleagues. How very original!
The House is not expected to take up the legislation until later this year, per Politico. Given Manchin’s incessant desire to consistently fall on the wrong side of history and the unlikelihood that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would even introduce the bill in the chamber, the chances that the Equality Act passes without some major concessions seem slim at the moment.
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So, in one corner, a perfectly reasonable bill aiming to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our citizenry. In the other, a couple of Democratic congressmen passing the ball on preventing rampant discrimination by citing organized religion and imaginary transphobic school teachers. Truly, democracy at its finest.