Sessions understands the LGBTQ community the way a bulldozer understands a building
Confirmation hearings began this week for several of President-elect Trump’s cabinet nominees, and HRC has remained vocal in calling out the records of nominees who would oversee agencies crucial to LGBTQ people.
I was there in the committee room seated next to Sherrilyn Ifill, the President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, as several of our strongest partners, including Senator Cory Booker, Representative John Lewis, and NAACP President and CEO Cornell Brooks testified against Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination to be United States Attorney General.
Put simply, Sessions understands the LGBTQ community the way a bulldozer understands a building. His record of undermining the civil rights of not only LGBTQ people, but of so many, is vast. As we detail in a new report, Sessions has stood opposed to the LGBTQ community on every issue that has come before him, from voting against hate crimes laws and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” to supporting laws that criminalize LGBTQ activity. As Amita Swadhin, a sexual assault survivor and advocate, noted during her testimony against Sessions, at a time when LGBTQ people and transgender women of color in particular face alarming rates of violence, Sessions’ votes against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act give us no reason to put faith in him as attorney general.
Nothing Sessions said or could have said during his confirmation hearing would have erased his history of discrimination, and we urge each and every one of you to join us in calling your senators at (202) 224–3121 and urging them to oppose Sessions’ confirmation.
As Congressman Lewis said during his testimony against Sessions, “We need someone who is going to stand up, speak up, and speak out for the people who need help, for people who have been discriminated against.” Jeff Sessions will not be that attorney general.
As confirmation hearings continue next week, we will continue to demand answers from Trump’s nominees, and urge commitments to maintain the enormous gains for equality we’ve made under President Obama. It’s also up to Congress to ask tough questions of the President-elect regarding explosive reports that he and his campaign colluded with Russia, one of the most brutal anti-LGBTQ regimes in the world.
With the inauguration just a week away, we are in for a fight these next few years — and we are ready to fight for LGBTQ people whether we are inside the halls of the Capitol or marching outside the White House.
HRC is proud to both sponsor and join in major social justice actions in Washington this weekend and next, raising up our shared and continuing fight for equality for all. If you are able, we urge you to join us in Washington. A contingent of HRC staff, members and volunteers will be participating in both the “We Are Here To Stay” rally for immigrant and refugee rights and the “We Shall Not Be Moved March on Washington” for civil rights on January 14. We are also participating in the “Women’s March on Washington” on January 21.
At a time of great uncertainty for our country, we join our fellow Americans in standing up and speaking out for our shared values of equality and justice for all. Next week and beyond, we will stand in locked arms with our progressive partners, reminding our new president that our communities are as diverse as the fabric of this nation. We will speak out for amazing young Dreamers like Javier, whose story you simply must watch, and for LGBTQ advocates like Cathy, who fought Jeff Sessions’ anti-equality actions 20 years ago in Alabama. And we will remain forever grateful for the incredible leadership of Judy Shepard, who reminded the Senate this week of Sessions’ many attempts to road block hate crimes legislation and whose tireless advocacy is a lesson to us all.
In the weeks and months ahead, I hope you will remember Javier and Cathy and Judy and stand together as one in the fight for justice. As President Obama said during his Farewell Address in Chicago this week, “I’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.”
P.S. For all the hearing news — including news on Sen. Jeff Sessions, Ben Carson, Rex Tillerson, General James Mattis, and others — be sure to check out and subscribe to #AM_Equality, our daily tipsheet detailing the latest breaking LGBTQ news.