West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin on
Monday released a statement explaining why he's the only Senate
Democrat not supporting passage of the Equality Act.
Re-introduced last week, the Equality
Act is a federal bill that seeks to prohibit discrimination against
people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
Buttigieg endorses LGBT protections bill Equality Act.)
In his statement, Manchin insisted that
he “support[s] equality for all people and do[es] not tolerate
discrimination of any kind.”
“After speaking with local education
officials in West Virginia, I am not convinced that the Equality Act
as written provides sufficient guidance to the local officials who
will be responsible for implementing it, particularly with respect to
students transitioning between genders in public schools,” Manchin
wrote. “I will continue working with the sponsors of the bill to
build broad bipartisan support and find a viable path forward for
these critical protections so that I can vote in support of this
Manchin added that “no one should be
afraid of losing their job or losing their housing because of their
sexual orientation.” The senator's statement notably did not
include gender identity.
The senior senator from West Virginia –
considered a “deep red” state at the federal level – has a
mixed record on LGBT rights and has frequently sided with President
Donald Trump. Manchin scored 30 points (out of 100) on the Human
Rights Campaign's (HRC) latest Congressional
Scorecard, a measure of a lawmaker's support for LGBT rights.
Also of note is Manchin's continued
opposition to same-sex marriage, making him the only Senate Democrat
to never come out in support of such unions.
GLAAD called on Manchin to reverse
course and support passage of the legislation.
“While it’s easy to understand
Senator Joe Manchin’s concerns about the federal government’s
power over local authorities, 58,000 LGBTQ West Virginians cannot
have their safety remain on the line as they wait for their state
government to defend them,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate
Ellis said. “The Equality Act presents an opportunity to protect
LGBTQ people from harassment at schools, at work, or even in their
homes in his home state of West Virginia – and that’s about as
local as it gets.”