An effort by Senate Republicans to overturn U.S. Department of Agriculture rules it says protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in federally funded nutrition programs failed in a narrow vote on Thursday.
Connecticut Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy railed against the Republican-led resolution that he said would allow schools to refuse students meals or reject them for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits if they identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or nonbinary.
“If you're feeding poor kids, it shouldn't matter whether that kid is straight or gay or transgender, whether they're black or white, whether they're Catholic or Protestant," said Murphy in a speech on the Senate floor. "You can't choose not to feed a kid because of their ethnicity, their race, or their sexual orientation. That's just common sense."
The Senate Joint Resolution 4 was introduced by Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall and disapproves of Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) program rules regarding how to make complaints concerning allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The rules were drafted in May 2022 following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v Clayton County.
In that ruling, Supreme Court justices said that Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the prohibition on sex discrimination in employment includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The FNS determined that the court’s decision applies to its federally funded programs, including SNAP.
The bill was co-sponsored by 19 Republican senators.
Ahead of Thursday’s vote, Connecticut’s junior senator called Republicans who supported the resolution “bullies” and accused them of inventing a problem that doesn’t exist. He said their purported campaign targeting LGBTQ+ children could have lethal consequences, citing statistics showing 52% of transgender children contemplate suicide because of rejection.
“Just think about that for a second. Half of the kids who are transgender come to the conclusion at some point in their young lives, that they would be better off dead, dead than to live in a world that believes that they are threats to be marginalized or expunged. How small, how tiny do you have to be to reach a position of political leadership and choose to use that position to bully or shame kids?” said Murphy. “This campaign of targeting and marginalizing gay and transgender kids trying to convince the country that they are threats to this country – it's just wrong on the facts. It's wrong morally, and it has lethal consequences. And it should stop.”