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House Oversight and Reform Committee Conducts Historic Hearing on LGBTQ Rights

Feb 27, 2020
Press Release

DATE:  Feb. 27, 2020

CONTACT:  rina.patel@mail.house.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

House Oversight and Reform Committee Conducts Historic Hearing on LGBTQ Rights

Washington, D.C. – The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus today applauded the House Committee on Oversight and Reform for holding a hearing on “The Administration’s Religious Liberty Assault on LGBTQ Rights.” The Caucus believes it is essential to shine the light on the way the Administration’s actions have impacted LGBTQ people and will in the future. The Caucus appreciates the leadership of Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, who is also a Member of the Equality Caucus and Congressman Jamie Raskin, Subcommittee Chair for the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and a Vice Chair for the Equality Caucus.

In her opening remarks, Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney described the importance of the hearing: “Transphobia, racism, and homophobia are real—and LGBTQ people face real harms and real violence in their daily lives.  And that is precisely why the federal government must act to protect LGBTQ people against harm. The Oversight Committee will continue to combat this Administration’s abuses, and we will support our friends and neighbors who are being unfairly targeted by this President and his Administration.”

Three Members of the Caucus spoke in the opening panel, each providing their perspective on how best to balance the competing priorities of religious freedom and the freedom from discrimination.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the first and only out member of Congress from New York and a father of three, spoke on the Administration’s reckless discrimination against LGBT couples looking to adopt or foster children. In his testimony, Rep. Maloney said, “The point is: when you allow people to discriminate against these couples, you deprive children of good moms, dads, families, who are going to love them. And when you dress this up as religious liberty, you simply sanction discrimination and deprive those children of a home that they deserve.”

“And so we’re here because the Trump Administration, as we know, has greenlighted license to discriminate laws to allow federally-funded organizations to discriminate against adoptive and foster parents who don’t share the organization’s religious beliefs, and that means also LGBTQ parents and people of other religions won’t be able to adopt. And those kids are the ones that are going to lose. Hundreds of thousands of kids who need foster parents, who need adoptive parents.”

“As a gay person of color, I know how harmful this administration has been for LGBTQ people, and how its policies disproportionately affect LGBTQ people of color, trans people, and other minorities within the LGBTQ community,” said Rep. Mark Takano, the first openly gay person of color elected to Congress. “House Democrats and the LGBT Equality Caucus know better than to accept thinly veiled bigotry and discrimination touted as religious freedom – and we will fight back. That’s why we held this hearing. We have decades of experience fighting back against these types of anti-LGBTQ attacks and, while it is disheartening to have to still wage these battles in 2020, we have no plans to back down.”

Rep. Joe Kennedy III, leader of the Equality Caucus’ Transgender Equality Task Force spoke to the need to protect both religious liberty and freedom from discrimination, “Americans have painfully learned this lesson for generations: if civil and legal rights exist only in the absence of a neighbor’s religious objection, then they are not rights but empty promises. The ability to freely and fully exercise sincerely-held religious beliefs in this country is a liberty we cherish. But there is a difference between exercising religious beliefs and imposing them on others. Our Constitution fiercely protects the former and expressly prohibits the latter. If this President and his Administration are too blinded by bigotry to see the harm they are causing not just to LGBTQ Americans and vulnerable communities, but religious liberty itself, Congress must act quickly, and powerfully, to open their eyes.”

Video of the hearing is available for viewing here

Please contact Shawn Gaylord at 202-257-8416 or shawn.gaylord@mail.house.gov with press inquiries.

Founded in 2008, the mission of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. The Caucus, led by the seven openly LGBT members of Congress, is committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the U.S. and around the world.