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Republicans stall LGBT+ rights law by making clerk read the entire bill

Nick Duffy May 1, 2019
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Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and the clerk who read the bill, Madeleine

Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and the clerk who read the bill, Madeleine

Republicans have come up with a “petty” new way to stall the Equality Act, a crucial LGBT+ rights bill.

On Wednesday (May 1), the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee had been undertaking a hearing on the Equality Act, which would extend existing civil rights laws to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bill has broad bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, but Republican lawmakers on the committee resorted to a stalling tactic in order to hold it off.

Republican congressman demands clerk read entire 27-page bill

GOP congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who has an anti-LGBT voting record, used a procedural rule to block the bill’s introduction before being read in full to the committee.

Committees usually waive the full reading of bills by unanimous consent, however Sensenbrenner insisted on having a clerk, Madeleine, read out the entire 27-page document.

The Republican said: “Mr Chairman, I object. Mr Chairman, I object to waiving the reading. You asked for unanimous consent, and I object.”

Republicans stalled the bill: Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner
Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner

Jerry Nadler, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, hit out at the Republicans for “dilatory tactics for no purpose at all.”

Directing the staff member to proceed with reading the entire bill in full, he added: “Before the clerk reads the bill, let me make a statement. The bill is 27 pages long. We know what’s in it. The purpose of the objection is simply to waste time.”

It took the young staff member 30 minutes to read the entire bill, powering through the entire document in one go.

LGBT+ campaigners hit out ‘childish’ Republicans stalling tactics

LGBT+ rights campaigners hit out at the “petty” tactics from the Republican committee members.

Progressive group People For the American Way said: “In a move that screams good faith and civility, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are delaying the vote by making the clerk read all 27 pages of the bill.”

Others praised the clerk for doing her job diligently despite the surreal request.

Charlotte Clymer of Human Rights Campaign tweeted: “I gotta say, we’re all rather impressed with the professionalism of this staffer who’s being forced to read the entire text of the Equality Act at the petty request of a Republican Congressman.”

Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality added: “Here is the heroic clerk who just read all 27 pages of the #EqualityAct. Her name is Madeleine.”

LGBT+ group PFLAG tweeted: “A shoutout to the reading clerk, now reading her way through the #EqualityAct. It bears repeating: The #EqualityAct is a crucial piece of legislation for hundreds of thousands of #LGBTQ+people and their loved ones. Thank you for reminding us! #EqualityStartsWithMe”

After the clerk finished reading the bill, gay Democratic Rep. David Cicilline said: “Mr Chairman, I just wanted to note for the record, we’ve waited several hundred years for equality, we can wait a few more hours apparently.”

The Equality Act is widely expected to clear the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, with the support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

However, the leadership in the Republican-controlled Senate has previously refused to bring the bill to a vote, giving it little prospect of becoming law without a change in stance.

Related topics: bill, clerk, Gay, LGBT, Republican, Republicans

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