The Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton reports on the defeat yesterday of an amendment from Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota to protect K-12 LGBT students from bullying and discrimination:
In its first vote affecting gay people since the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, the Senate Tuesday rejected a federal prohibition against discrimination and bullying in K-12 public schools based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Fifty-two Senators voted for such a provision, while 45 opposed it. But Senate rules required 60 votes, and the measure fell short.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), the sponsor of the amendment, had made an impassioned argument that gay and transgender students needed the same federal protections as other historically persecuted groups.
“If a black child was referred to by a racial slur at school, would we say kids will be kids?” Franken said on the Senate floor as debate began Monday. “If a Jewish student got beat up because he wore a yarmulke to school, would we wave it off and say boys will be boys? If a shop teacher told a female student she didn’t belong in his class, would we be fine if the school just looked the other way? No, we would not. In fact, there are federal civil rights laws that are specifically designed to stop this kind of conduct.”
As Buzzfeed’s Dominick Holden reports, there was bipartisan support for Sen. Franken’s amendment:
Introduced by Sen. Franken of Minnesota, the amendment before lawmakers on Tuesday had 42 sponsors, including one Republican — Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois. At least five more senators from the GOP — Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Susan Collins, Dean Heller, Lisa Murkowski, and Rob Portman — joined Kirk in voting for the amendment.
Missing from the list above of moderate Republican Senators who joined with Democrats to vote to stop LGBT student bullying is Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado. We haven’t seen a statement from Gardner yet explaining his vote, but the general excuse offered by Republican “no” votes seems to be that “the matter” of LGBT students being bullied is best “left to local school districts.”
Assuming that was Gardner’s reasoning as well, we can’t help but recall the recent controversy in Jefferson County, in which majority school board member Julie Williams posted materials on Facebook directing followers to join a protest against LGBT students on campus, and against teaching “children to support and embrace the unnatural and unhealthy homosexual-bisexual-transsexual agenda.”
Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a better argument to refute Gardner’s vote for “local control” of LGBT student bullying policies than Julie Williams. We’ll be very interested to see if local reporters ask Gardner to reconcile his vote with her behavior.