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Republican defector who wants to run against Trump says he ‘would protect trans Americans’ as president. His voting record begs to differ

Nick Duffy May 4, 2020
Rep. Justin Amash

Rep. Justin Amash (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Former Republican congressman Justin Amash, who is exploring a third-party presidential bid, has said he would “protect” transgender Americans – despite his previous votes against laws to do exactly that.

Amash, who quit the Republican Party in 2019 over his dissatisfaction with the party under Trump, has threatened to run as a third-party candidate in the 2020 election.

Other prominent conservative critics of Trump have warned Amash not to run, fearing he will simply serve as a spoiler and hand the leader a second term in the White House.

But Amash appears set on pressing ahead with his presidential bid, seeking the Libertarian Party’s backing.

Justin Amash says he’d support transgender rights, despite voting against Equality Act.

In an interview with Forbes, Amash made a significant departure from his Republican past by backing discrimination rights protections for transgender people.

He said: “I would protect transgender Americans under the protections that exist for sex.”

The Supreme Court is expected to decide this month on whether the 1968 Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on sex, can already be applied to cover LGBT+ people.

Amash said: “I think that people can take the term ‘sex’ that’s in federal law and interpret it to mean things beyond what it traditionally meant.

“Sometimes, we have to catch up to the law…  in other words, the law is written and the law will be fairly broad, and the public and the courts are not actually caught up to what is actually in the text.”

Former Republican Justin Amash is threatening to run as a third-party candidate
Justin Amash is threatening to run as a third-party candidate (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Despite warm words now, Amash had a mixed record on LGBT+ issues while sitting as a Republican in Congress – not joining those who broke ranks and voted to condemn Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military.

He also cast votes against the Equality Act, which would extend explicit discrimination protections to LGBT+ people in all 50 states.

Across his time in Congress, Amash has maintained a rating between zero and 30 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard – indicating he predominantly cast votes against LGBT+ rights with some occasional shifts.

I’ve supporting gay marriage ‘for a long time’, says presidential hopeful.

Amash also said that he supports same-sex marriage, making clear: “I support gay marriage and I have supported it for a long time.

“I’ve always held the view that the government should not be a part of marriage. I think that marriage should be a private contract or a religious ceremony and not something that the government is a part of. But if the government is going to be a part of marriage for straight couples, then it must also allow others to get married.”

While running for Congress in 2010, the candidate had initially supported the Defence of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

However, he was one of the earliest Republicans to come out against the law, saying in 2013: “Real threat to traditional marriage and religious liberty is government, not gay couples who love each other and want to spend lives together.”

More: Donald Trump, Justin Amash, Republican

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