House GOP leaders block vote banning LGBT discriminaton

By Martin Smith
House GOP leaders block vote banning LGBT discriminaton
Days after the massacre at a gay club in Orlando, Republicans have blocked a vote that would ban discrimination against LGBT people by federal contractors. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI.. | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 15 (UPI) -- Republican House leaders have refused to allow a vote on a bill that would outlaw anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors.

Their decision came just days after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people and left 53 more injured.


Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), who is gay, filed an amendment to a Defense Department spending bill that would enforce a 2014 executive order prohibiting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people.

The Defense bill is scheduled to to be voted on by the House this week, but the GOP-dominated House Rules Committee blocked Maloney's amendment on Tuesday night.

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Maloney said that allowing a vote to prohibit discrimination in the workplace would show support for the LGBT community.

"It's hard to imagine that any act that is so horrific could lead to anything positive. But if we were going to do anything, it would be a very positive step to say that discrimination has no place in our law and to reaffirm the president's actions in this area," Maloney told The Hill. "Seems to me a pretty basic thing to do."


Afterward, he tweeted his dismay that his amendment had failed to reach the House floor.

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He called it "shameful" and said: "I'm at a loss. Our community suffered tremendous loss, now GOP lawmakers refuse to even allow a vote."

The shooting at Pulse nightclub on Sunday is being viewed as both a hate crime and terrorist attack by federal authorities.

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FBI Director James Comey said the suspected shooter had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State during a 911 call before he was shot dead by police.

However, Maloney did get support from two Republicans, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami and Rep. Richard Hanna, who represents a Central New York congressional district. Both signed the amendment as co-sponsors.

Maloney put forward the same amendment to a Department of Veterans Affairs spending bill last month, but it failed by a single vote after GOP leaders put pressure on Republicans to vote against it.


A week later, Maloney tried again in an Energy Department spending bill. This time he was successful after 43 Republicans joined all Democrats in support. But the next day the bill collapsed on the House floor after many conservatives refused to vote for it with Maloney's amendment attached, citing concerns about religious freedom.

"Hate has no place in our flags, in our workplace, or in our country. And it should have no place in federal law," Maloney told the House Rules Committee.

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