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House Republican ‘Terrorists’ Target LGBTQ+ Community Center Funding in ‘Unprecedented’ Move

House Republican ‘Terrorists’ Target LGBTQ+ Community Center Funding in ‘Unprecedented’ Move

LGBTQ Centers

Democrats in the House of Representatives are livid and have called out their GOP colleagues.


In what lawmakers have called an unprecedented move, House Republicans introduced and moved a last-minute amendment stripping three community projects of funding as part of a committee markup for the 2024 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development spending bill. Of the 2,680 projects previously approved, these three all serve the LGBTQ+ community.

The ranking member of the committee, Connecticut Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro, called the GOP move one of “terrorists.”

The Republican-led House Committee on Appropriations took up and passed a last-minute amendment that sought to strike funding for three community centers that serve LGBTQ+ seniors in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. LGBTQ Senior Housing Inc., William Way LGBT Center, and LGBT Center of Greater Reading were all stripped of funds.

Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley said the projects make up 0.1 percent of the funds requested.

Rep. Brendan Boyle, whose Philadelphia-area project was defunded, tells The Advocate that he and many of his colleagues suspect that Republicans just searched for the keyword “LGBTQ” to see which projects to target.

Quigley also wondered whether Republicans just looked for the term. “Is this going to be part of the process as we go on?” Quigley asked. “Are we reconstructing the closet here?”

Democrats point out that these projects passed muster and review, and their only problem is including that acronym in their name.

Florida’s Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that in 18 years, she has never witnessed members strip funds from another member’s project in this way on the Appropriations Committee.

She said the only explanation she has is Republican bigotry.

“They want to strip funding for LGBTQ+ senior housing and community centers, which offer critical resources like HIV testing, career development, and mental health services,” she said, addressing the committee.

“How far will this bigotry and hatred go? I ask you to close your eyes and take yourself back to as if it were the 1930s or '40s, and substitute the acronym LGBTQ+ for [Jewish community center] or African American community centers. This is the bigotry of the moment. It was OK back then for most people to discriminate against Jews and African-Americans, and now unfortunately, Republicans believe that it’s OK to erase gay people and their lives and their livelihoods and their quality of life. Well, I won’t stand for it. We won’t stand for it.”

She added, “This latest attempt to strip funding from a persecuted group is just another example of craven submissiveness to right-wing extremists, and it’s shameful. This committee and the nation [are] better than that.”

Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican representing Maryland’s Eastern Shore, claimed that the three projects were targeted because of things he found on their websites.

He said that while the projects ostensibly supported LGBTQ+ seniors, in his opinion, they were grooming children.

Far-right extremists have used the false smear that LGBTQ+ people groom children for exploitation.

Regarding the LGBT Center of Greater Reading, Harris made outrageous claims.

“It has social and support groups for 7-year-olds, I guess, to groom 7-year-olds,” the medical doctor said. “'Cause why else would you have? It’s not for adults; it’s not an adult group.”

He continued, “The same group that promotes hormone replacement therapy and gender-affirming surgery referrals. I don’t know what goes on in those support groups. They might be doing that in those support groups. And I’ll be darned if I want taxpayer dollars going to funding [that].”

Finally, regarding LGBTQ Senior Housing Inc., Harris complained that the facility discriminates against people who are not LGBTQ+ or allies of the community because the center requires either for residents.

“So if you happen to disagree, you don’t get these publicly funded dollars,” Harris grumbled.

He also made a bizarre comparison between the extremist group Moms for Liberty and the Ku Klux Klan regarding the LGBTQ+ community’s First Amendment rights. This made little sense but caused Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright, who had yielded his time, to distance himself from the comment.

The chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan, wondered how many other websites Harris had reviewed to engage in his bigotry.

Boyle explains that a version of earmarks called Community Project Funding was introduced to Congress two years ago. Earmarks had been banned for more than a decade. In addition to the money one can designate for a member’s district, they must meet a rigorous set of objective criteria for each project to qualify. Each member can pick up up to 15 projects.

In March, every member was required to submit their projects, and for the past several months, Boyle says, the appropriations committee has been vetting these projects. As of last week, members learned which projects were approved, and most, if not all, got approved.

In his district, Boyle requested $1.8 million to upgrade the William Way Community Center, a historic building that has served the LGBTQ+ community for decades with hope and support. In addition to job counseling and meals for seniors, it has provided many other resources that have been vital to the community, he said.

Boyle notes that the project “clearly qualifies,” and Republicans had targeted it based on “disgusting and ugly bigotry.”

The amendment also eliminated two other Democratic-requested programs. Pennsylvania Rep. Chrissy Houlahan lost $970,000 for an LGBTQ+ center in Reading, while Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts lost $850,000 for an organization that supports LGBTQ housing for older Americans.

“Now all of a sudden, at the last minute, the Republicans have an amendment out of 3,800 approved projects to strip three from the bill,” Boyle says.

“Never before in the history of earmarks, once they’ve been approved, have you ever seen a situation in which the majority party has voted to strip out a project that was already approved and in there, and I had been told that literally what the Republican majority did was run a simple search in the document for anything that had been had LGBTQ in the title so that they could zero in on it.”

Boyle adds, “It is absolutely outrageous. It is the single most blatant and obvious case of discrimination and bigotry that I have seen in my congressional career.”

Pressley expressed her dissatisfaction with House Republicans to The Advocate.

“Day in and day out, Republicans demonstrate the contempt they have for the most vulnerable people in America, and their stripping critical housing funding for senior members of the LGBTQ+ community in the Massachusetts 7th is the latest example of that,” she said.

“It is unconscionable that Republican committee members would hold senior citizen-specific housing hostage and continue their dangerous national trend of targeting the LGBTQ+ community. This process is intended for our communities to advocate for projects that have the highest impact, and this move by Republicans is blatant homophobia designed to attack some of our most vulnerable seniors.”

She added, “To our LGBTQ+ siblings, know you are seen and loved, and I won’t stop fighting to get this funding over the finish line and advance the critical investments you need not only to survive but to thrive.”

Quigley, who is the ranking member on the subcommittee holding the markup, and who offered an amendment (which was also voted down) to add the projects back into the bill, tells The Advocate that he has never seen anything like this.

“In the 10 years I’ve served on the Appropriations Committee, I have never seen such blatant bigotry,” he says. “It could not be clearer that the one and only purpose of this amendment is to harm LGBTQI+ individuals. These are good, important projects that will have a positive impact on their communities. They help meet critical needs for LGBTQI+ people. I will not stand by and be silent while Republicans try to bring their extremist homophobic campaign into this chamber.”

Quigly says that the reasons behind the Republican move to strip funding from LGBTQ-related projects is clear.

“The old Latin phrase ‘res ipsa loquitor’ — it speaks for itself,” he says. “Looking at it on its face, it’s easy to understand what’s happening. [Republicans] are flipping reality into nonsense.”

The amendment passed with 32 Republicans voting for it and 26 Democrats voting against it.

Late Tuesday, the bill passed a full committee vote 34-27 and now moves for a vote by the House of Representatives.

Democratic leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries noted his dissatisfaction and tells The Advocate that his caucus will continue fighting for the rights of LGBTQ+ people.

"The continued assault by extreme MAGA Republicans on the LGBTQ+ community is disgusting," the New York congressman says. "Right-wing bigots are determined to turn back the clock and make America hate again. We will not stop fighting until we achieve full equality for the LGBTQ+ community.”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This story has been updated to reflect the margin of the bill's passage out of committee and to include comments by the Democratic leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

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