As the federal Equality Act heads toward the Senate, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert’s opposition to the bill’s protections for transgender youth has drawn criticism from LGBTQ policymakers in Colorado.
“Where is the equity in this legislation for the young girls across America who will have to look behind their backs as they change in school locker rooms, just to make sure there isn’t a confused man trying to catch a peek?” Boebert asked on the House floor two days before the final vote, urging her colleagues to vote against the act.
Members of the LGBTQ caucus at Colorado’s statehouse condemned the congresswoman’s statements.
“Her words hurt people, propagate dangerous tropes, and cause mental distress to those she berates,” the group said in a statement. “When leaders like Congresswoman Boebert use their position of power to fuel tropes about trans people, a group facing discrimination, violence, and poverty all over the globe, they exemplify why we need The Equality Act now.”
LGBTQ proponents have sought to pass the act for decades. The legislation would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of traits protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It also expands protections to include federally funded programs and “public accommodations,” which covers everything from private businesses to transportation providers.
The bill cleared the Democratic-controlled House on a 224-206 vote. All four Colorado Democratic representatives voted for it. Republicans Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn voted against it. Boebert did not cast a vote.
In her remarks, both on the floor and in a later press conference, Boebert focused on the bill’s implications for transgender youth and their families. The bill requires workplaces and public schools to respect people’s correct pronouns and names and ensure they have access to bathrooms and other facilities in line with their gender identity.
Boebert has called the Equality Act “dangerous” and “disgusting.” She concluded her floor remarks by saying, “It’s astounding: up is down, wrong is right, left is right, boys are girls and vice versa.”
Colorado’s state-level anti-discrimination laws already include gender identity and sexual orientation. And the Democratic-controlled legislature has taken steps in recent years to expand protections, including making it easier to get a revised birth certificate and outlawing ‘conversion therapy’ for minors.
The state’s first transgender lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Brianna Titone, said she feels “a responsibility to speak up when things like this are said.”
Titone signed on with the statements from the LGBTQ caucus.
“I don't want to see kids, you know, go through their life depressed because of the things that they hear, and the things that are in the permanent record in the archives of Congress, that tell them that they're not worthy and they're worthless and that they shouldn't be here and they should go away,” Titone said.
While the Equality Act has the backing of President Joe Biden, it may not secure enough Senate support to overcome the threat of a filibuster.
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