Equality California sent out a press release today scolding LGBT lawmakers for their votes in favor of HR 4038, the so-called American Security against Foreign Enemies Act.
Wrote Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur in the statement:
“Last week’s vote was a victory for ignorance and fear. We are deeply disappointed that the list of ‘ayes’ included members of California’s congressional delegation, including members who have been champions of LGBT civil rights, and several LGBT members of Congress outside of California.
“Among the millions of Syrians fleeing their country in fear for their lives are thousands of LGBT people, who face even harsher cruelties if they were to stay than the others, who are fleeing already unspeakable atrocities.
“As LGBT people we understand the effects of public antipathy and discrimination, and as a civil rights organization, we have a responsibility to stand up against policy decisions that are unthinking and unfeeling responses to popular anxiety.
“It is important for LGBT civil rights groups to stand up against intolerance wherever it raises its head. It’s easy to stand up against discrimination and injustice when the public is with us. The test of courage and leadership, and the purpose of public education and outreach, is to speak out when the public is vulnerable to messages of fear and lack of understanding. In this case, we at Equality California believe it is appropriate to hold elected officials accountable for their actions and to take steps to protest when elected officials are on the wrong side of civil rights issues that impact the LGBT community and the communities that we are a part of.”
The statement did not name the specific lawmakers, though the out LGBT members who voted for the bill are Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY). Their votes caused an uproar over the weekend as well as calls for The Victory Fund to drop them, an action that organization said it would not take.
Victory Fund CEO Aisha Moodie-Mills responded to anger about the votes in remarks to the Washington Blade:
“I don’t have an opinion about…who’s doing what, where about Syria,” Moodie-Mills said. “Because Syria, I tell you, is certainly not my policy expertise, and it is the furthest thing from Victory Institute’s expertise.”
Moodie-Mills said the Victory Fund continues to have three criteria for endorsing candidates: They must be viable, pro-choice and in favor of LGBT rights.
“That’s about as deep in the weeds on any policy ideas or legislative maneuvers that we get,” she added. “Other organizations are dealing with issues and issue advocacy, but that’s not the role that we play. And for our candidates and for our elected officials, we surely don’t get involved in the devil of the details of how they legislate and what they vote for and what they support.”
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