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MAGA Republicans Continue to Abuse Funding Bills to Push an Anti-LGBTQ+ Agenda

Mike Quigley
Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images

"I’ve seen firsthand how Republicans are using these target marginalized communities for discrimination and exclusion," writes U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley.

In all my years as a member of the Appropriations Committee, never before have I witnessed such blatant attacks on the LGBTQI+ community. Over the past year, I’ve sat through bill markups where my colleagues across the aisle have demonized these individuals simply for who they love or how they identify. MAGA Republicans have put dangerous policy riders in our funding bills – using LGBTQI+ individuals as pawns in their political games. It’s unsettling at best, dangerous at worst. This week, the House is voting on bills containing these poison pills.

As the lead Democrat on the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee on the House Appropriations Committee, this issue is personal. I’ve seen firsthand how Republicans are using these bills, particularly the THUD bill, to target marginalized communities for discrimination and exclusion.

Federal funding should provide support to all Americans and serve the critical needs facing our constituents. It should move our country forward. This year’s THUD bill only takes us backward.

For starters, the bill includes a provision that would enable people and organizations to discriminate against LGBTQI+ individuals under the guise of religious liberty. If it becomes law, the legislation would prevent the federal government from adequately responding to discrimination toward the LGBTQI+ community. Time and again, we see religious liberty used as cover to discriminate. Encoding this into our law sets a dangerous precedent.

If this bill became law, a federally funded provider could refuse to place same-sex couples in family housing and the Department of Housing and Urban Development could not intervene.

LGBTQI+ youth are already overrepresented in our homeless population, and this rider would only exacerbate that problem.

This license to discriminate has been included in nearly every appropriations bill for the fiscal year. It’s clear that MAGA extremists are trying to take America backward to a time when anti-LGBTQI+ discrimination was condoned by the federal government.

Additionally, MAGA Republicans are blatantly attacking LGBTQI+ people and further politicizing the appropriations process by restricting the ability of federal agencies to voluntarily show their support for their LGBTQI+ employees by flying Pride flags. At a time when the LGBTQI+ community is under attack, displaying a pride flag is an important signal to LGBTQI+ people that they are welcome. This rider makes clear that Republicans don’t believe LGBTQI+ people belong or should be affirmed in our society.

These attacks are deliberate and unconscionable. They reflect the lengths Republicans will go to appeal to a small slice of their extremist base who are motivated by anti-LGBTQI+ hate.

Even before this bill was scheduled to come to a vote before the House, Republicans were already using it to attack LGBTQI+ people. When the committee considered this bill, Republicans took the unprecedented step of cutting three community project funding grants that would provide critical housing and services for the LGBTQI+ community. These cuts reflected millions of dollars in funding that would have tackled LGBTQI+ homelessness and housing insecurity by building affordable housing for seniors, providing transitional housing, and expanding a community center. These three projects were the only community project funding that were cut from the bill during markup and were targeted only because of who they would serve.

To make matters worse, they were blatantly open with their homophobia and transphobia. During debate, they doubled down on their justifications for these cuts with fearmongering and misinformation about the intentions of these projects. The federal government shouldn’t be targeting people because of who they are or who they love. We need to be working to ensure LGBTQI+ people can thrive just like all other Americans.

I am fortunate to represent a vibrant district filled with LGBTQI+ people who are proud of who they are, and allies who are unapologetic in their love for the LGBTQI+ community. As a Vice Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, an organization of 195 members of the House dedicated to advancing LGBTQI+ equality, I am committed to defending the community’s rights and freedoms.

I have worked with my Republican colleagues to produce comprehensive and bipartisan legislation before that tackles the needs of this country. I hope to do so again, but as long as they are using their appropriation bills to target LGBTQI+ people, I will vehemently oppose them.

We must keep America moving forward, and that includes supporting LGBTQI+ Americans in our government funding bills.

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley represents the 5th congressional district of Illinois. He is a vice chair of the Equality Caucus.

Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

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