As the House of Representatives resumes its business and members return to their districts for the Thanksgiving holiday, the American people are asking, "What the heck have they been doing in our nation's capital this year?"
Key pieces of legislation, such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and Comprehensive Immigration Reform, have passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support — yet Speaker John Boehner refuses to bring up these bills for a vote in the House. The leader of one of the most unproductive Congressional sessions in history is headed to also become the person who blocked key civil rights legislation.
Instead of taking this opportunity to become heroes for millions of Latino and millennial voters, the Republican House leadership has decided to stand for an agenda of family separation and employment discrimination.
- Felipe-Sosa Rodriguez
I am one of the 11 million immigrants who stand to benefit from the pathway to citizenship contained within the Senate's immigration bill. I am also a gay man living in Florida — one of the 33 states that allows workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The United States has historically endorsed and enforced unjust laws — yet the work of grassroots leaders and the political will of those in Congress have always helped move the country forward in moments of great uncertainty.
What else can we ask from our government but to protect our right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"? Every time a family is separated because of our broken immigration system or a worker loses their job because of who they are or who they love, our country fails to live up to its own promise. Our duty as people who love this country is to hold accountable the leaders who hinder the path for change in order to create a more perfect nation.
Fifty years from today, our children will look back to 2013 and judge Speaker Boehner as the man who obstructed a key opportunity to end injustices against several communities – including LGBTQ and immigrant families. More than 80 million millennials will soon be allowed to vote – every year, over 600,000 Latino citizens turn 18. Speaker Boehner’s strategy of obstructionism will doom the chances for the Republican Party to win national races, both now and into the future. We know that the Republican Party will continue to use dirty tricks to suppress the right to vote of millions of Americans, but that strategy is not going to work forever. Demographics are changing the face of our nation — we are watching a new majority rise into ascendancy. With John Boehner as the leader of the House, 2013 will go down in history as the beginning of the end of the Republican Party.
Speaker Boehner has allowed for a loud minority of Tea Party representatives to steer our country off the rails. Not too long ago, the House tried to destroy the federal government by sending 800,000 federal workers home during the government shutdown and derailing our economy. Again and again, we see examples of his ineffectiveness, inability to control his members and complete disrespect for our country.
We send representatives and elected leaders to Washington, DC, to deliver on issues that are relevant to our country. Instead of taking this opportunity to become heroes for millions of Latino and millennial voters, the Republican House leadership has decided to stand for an agenda of family separation and employment discrimination. Time and time again — from immigration reform and employment discrimination to gun control and women's health, Speaker Boehner is blocking the progress of widely popular legislation. His reckless leadership will cause the Republican Party harm now — and risks destroying the party in the future.
Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez is Co-Director of GetEQUAL, a national direct action LGBTQ rights civil rights organization.