In the midst of talks on budget, healthcare, and immigration reform, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz aims to change some of D.C.’s laws on contraceptive coverage and gay rights. On Wednesday, Cruz turned his focus to the capitol and introduced a measure in Congress to overturn existing laws about D.C. colleges funding gay and lesbian student groups and another law that deals with discrimination in reproductive health decisions.
Fortunately, the chances of Cruz’s bill getting passed aren’t all that great since that would require the support of both chambers of Congress as well as President Obama, The Washington Post reports. In theory though, if Cruz’s measure did pass, it would upend both laws that were signed into law just last year by the D.C. Council and D.C.’s mayor.
That would mean saying goodbye to a law that prevents private groups from discriminating against employees because of religious beliefs and forbids employers from interfering with their employees’ reproductive health decisions. The other law that would fly out the window is the Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014, which repealed an existing measure that exempted religious schools from the city’s gay nondiscrimination laws.
But if Cruz’s measures don’t really stand much of a chance of becoming a reality, then why did he pursue them? Well, according to the Post, it’s all about politics. Basically, when politicians propose or support such resolutions, it boosts their own legislative records and thus their appeal to their constituent base. For conservatives, going after the capital’s liberal-leaning stance on these two social issues sends a strong message to right-wing constituents.
Conservatives have sharply criticized both laws that Cruz is now campaigning against in his measure. So, unsurprisingly, they were pretty pleased with Cruz’s announcement on Wednesday. A member of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group said they were “pleased members of Congress are taking them seriously,” as the bills are “serious violations of religious freedoms,” the Post reports. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who introduced the measure with Cruz, issued a statement also implying that the D.C. laws undercut religious freedom:
… What the D.C. Council has done is a major threat to the fundamental right to religious freedom for D.C. residents and organizations, and a brazen display of intolerance.
But some saw Cruz’s efforts as a direct conflict to the party’s push for greater state’s rights, which Salon reports is one of Cruz's biggest topics, and also outright hypocritical. Opponents of the bill seem to be so caught up in the pursuit of religious freedom that they are forgetting the importance of personal freedom. The Washington Post reports that Kimberly Perry, head of the lobbying organization D.C. Vote, went so far as to call Cruz’s measure “un-American and un-democratic.”
Perhaps the person who made the best point, though, was D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser. She was befuddled as to why Cruz, in the midst of everything else currently going on in Congress and in the country, was turning his attention to D.C.’s local laws, according to the Post. Bowser said in a statement:
From fixing our broken immigration system to investing in our nation’s ailing infrastructure, there are numerous issues that deserve the attention of members of Congress. The District of Columbia’s legislative process should not be one of them.
Couldn’t have said it better.
Images: Getty Images (2)