House Speaker Paul Ryan to quit: What is his legacy on LGBT rights?
US House Speaker Paul Ryan has announced that he will not be seeking re-election and is quitting Congress.
Ryan became Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2015, and has led a fired-up Republican Party through a tumultuous few years.
According to multiple reports, Ryan is set to shortly announce that he will not be seeking re-election this year, ahead of expected losses for the GOP in November’s elections.
Ryan is expected to serve out his full term and retire in January.
A spokesperson said: “This morning Speaker Ryan shared with his colleagues that this will be his last year as a member of the House.
“After nearly 20 years in the House, the Speaker is proud of all that has been accomplished and is ready to devote more of his time to being a husband and a father.”
Ryan leaves behind a poor legacy on LGBT rights.
As Speaker, he has consistently refused to allow a vote on the Equality Act, a bill that would amend civil rights laws to introduce federal discrimination protections for people based on sexual orientation or gender identity – even though he previously expressed personal support for similar legislation.
In 2016, he led a GOP operation to vote down a bill amendment blocking the use of taxpayer dollars to pay contractors that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, which fell by a vote of 212 to 213.
The defeat prompted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to say: “Evidently Speaker Ryan’s promises of regular order mean nothing, when regular order means a majority of the House standing up to protect LGBT Americans from bigotry.”
His intransigence on the Equality Act led to sharp criticism from Democratic leaders, with a spokesperson saying: “The bipartisan Equality Act has significant support in the Congress and it is disappointing that Speaker Ryan would seek to hide behind his committee chairmen instead of taking leadership in the fight against LGBT discrimination.”
Prior to his election as Speaker, Ryan had a poor voting record on equality – having strongly opposed equal marriage, opposed openly gay troops in the military, and opposed LGBT hate crime laws.
He also held some moderate stances, speaking favourably about same-sex adoption and civil unions, but the lawmaker frequently frustrated campaigners by failing to convert his words into concrete actions.
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The Human Rights Campaign has given Ryan a consistent 0/100 rating on its LGBT rights legislative scorecard for the past decade.
However, his departure leaves a vacancy that could see the party pursue an even more hardline stance.
Majority Whip Steve Scalise and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy are among the likely contenders, according to CNN.
Neither has positive records on equality.