February 11, 2015 at 6:26 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
House panel blocks vote on LGBT inclusion in education bill
Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, gay news, Washington Blade

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) proposed an amendment along the lines of the Student Non-Discrimination Act. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Republican-controlled House committee prohibited a vote Wednesday on the inclusion of non-discrimination protections for LGBT students as part of an education reform bill.

During a committee markup of the Student Success Act, the Education & the Workforce Committee voted on a strictly party-line vote of 21-15 to table an amendment along the lines of the Student Non-Discrimination Act. The proposal was submitted by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who’s gay and a co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

“This is something I think we can all agree on; schools are there to serve all learners,” Polis said as he was introducing the amendment.

“I hope we don’t play out our social prejudices and arguments on the kids in school because it truly doesn’t matter in this context whether you think they ought to be able to have their marriages accepted by the government,” Polis continued. “Here, it’s simply about should they be able to go to school free of the fear of intimidation, and every child has that right as an American.”

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said she abhors “any kind of discrimination or any kind of intimidation,” but objected to the amendment on the basis that it was not germane to the larger bill, an assessment with which Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) agreed.

“The chair finds that the amendment is beyond the scope of a bill, which addresses improving elementary and secondary school education,” Kline said. “The amendment is a proposition on a matter different from that under consideration within the meaning of Clause 7 of Rule 16 of the Rules of the House of Representatives, therefore, the amendment is not germane.”

When Polis made an appeal on the basis that his measure was referred to solely to the Committee of Education & the Workforce, Kline submitted to the entire committee a proposal to table the amendment, which was agreed to by a roll call vote.

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), another gay lawmaker and co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, asked whether the chairman had consulted with the House parliamentarian before determining the amendment was out of order. Kline said he made that consultation.

One of the notable Republican votes to table the amendment came from Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), who’s considered a supporter of same-sex marriage and recently became a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act.

Modeled after Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Student Non-Discrimination Act would prohibit public schools from discriminating against any student based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, including by allowing bullying against them.

Polis reintroduced the measure, otherwise known as SNDA, as a standalone bill just Tuesday in the U.S. House and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) did the same in the U.S. Senate.

The larger vehicle that Polis sought to amend in committee was H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, which is a conservative attempt to remodel “No Child Left Behind” by replacing national accountability based on tests with state-led systems, preventing the Education Department from coercing states into adopting Common Core and expanding access to magnet and charter schools.

A House said language along the lines of the Student Non-Discrimination Act was initially included as part of a Democratic substitute for the Student Success Act, but that provision was removed after the language was deemed non-germane because Democrats didn’t want the entire substitute withdrawn.

Ian Thompson, legislative representative for the American Civil Liberties Union, criticized Republicans for refusing to allow a vote on the pro-LGBT measure.

“They had an opportunity to act to better the lives of LGBT students and send a strong signal that harassment and discrimination have no place in our country’s public schools,” Thompson said. “It’s very disappointing that they chose to engage in legislative gamesmanship instead.”

The roll call on the vote to table SNDA follows:

John Kline (R-Minn.)
Joe Wilson (R-S.C.)
Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.)
Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.)
Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.)
Tim Wahlberg (R-Mich.)
Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.)
Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.)
Todd Rokita (R-Ind.)
Lou Barletta (R-Pa.)
Joseph Heck (R-Nev.)
Luke Messer (R-Ind.)
Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.)
Dave Brat (R-Va.)
Buddy Carter (R-Ga.)
Mike Bishop (R-Mich.)
Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.)
Steve Russell (R-Okla.)
Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.)
Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.)
Rick Allen (R-Ga.)

Bobby Scott (D-Va.)
Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas)
Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.)
Joe Courtney (D-Conn.)
Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio)
Jared Polis (D-Colo.)
Gregorio Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands)
Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.)
Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.)
Mark Pocan (D-Wis.)
Mark Takano (D-Calif.)
Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)
Katherine Clark (D-Mass.)
Alma Adams (D-N.C.)
Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.)

David Roe (R-Tenn.)
Susan Davis (D-Calif.)

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

1 Comment
  • The gay supportive GOP. So much for those compassionate conservatives. Only when they need your vote. They can dangle some token gay groups before us like they do Republican Latinos to dupe that demographic into voting for them while opposing immigration reform or programs that actually help the community.

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