Why are gay members of Congress supporting GOP bill to restrict Syrian refugees?

Sean Patrick Maloney

Sean Patrick Maloney

Progressive, Democratic and gay New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney caught some angry flak for putting out a ringing defense of Syrian refugees — and then voting for a Republican bill that would place new restrictions on accepting refugees from Syria and Iraq. Openly gay Colorado Rep. Jared Polis basically did the same.

Rhetoric defeated reality.

Many are outraged, first because gay Congressmen were supporting a Republican bill, and second because their vote made it look like they were discriminating against an oppressed group–a special sin for representatives of the LGBT community.

First the good words from Maloney:

Our nation has long stood as a beacon of freedom, but after the events of the last few weeks some leaders have given into fear and turned their backs on refugees. These actions are reprehensible, and present a false choice between our values and our security. It’s understandable that people are scared, and Americans have a right to know that the process we use to screen refugees will keep us safe. I have a lot of faith in our system, and I don’t believe these refugees — the overwhelming majority of whom are women, elderly, and children – threaten our communities or national security. So instead of slowing the program or pausing it, the Administration should agree to immediately certify refugees if they pass the current extensive screenings and we should all refocus on actual threats.

We asked Maloney how he could reconcile those admirable sentiments with his support of the Republican bill, and he replied:

I understand, indeed share, so many of your concerns. I begged the White House to simply embrace an automatic ‘certification’ done by executive directive to the agencies at the conclusion of the existing process. (Something they could still do under the legislation.) We have a two-year process that works and reviews mostly seniors, women and children. There’s no reason on earth they couldn’t have done the simple step called for in this bill. This is nothing like what the GOP presidential candidates are calling for; it’s actually a weak weak bill. By opposing it we’ve created this ridiculous ‘sending them to their death’ narrative. The president just needs to get home from the Phillipines, with a stop in Paris, and lead the country through this frightening period. I’d really encourage you to read the bill. It’s nothing like the click-bait stories suggest. But again, I lost sleep over this and still struggle with it.

We did read the bill, and see at least two problems in it.

This Story Filed Under

Comments