In his “New Rules” segment Friday night, Bill Maher called for “boutique issues” like transgender equality to be put on hold until after the “Armageddon” presidential election, Yahoo! TV reports.
“From now until Election Day, everything else — every issue, every fight, every cause — has to take a backseat to defeating Trump,” Maher said. “We all have our issues that are important to us, and so just to lead by example, let me say I will take my own close-to-the-heart pet cause — pot legalization — off the table. And you know me: I have seeds in my urine!”
Twitter wasn’t having it. Some called out his characterization of the issues liberals and progressive are fighting for, as well as the privileged lens through which he views them:
@JoyceCarolOates if by "boutique issues" you mean objectively moral issues that actually shouldn't be compromised on.
— Gravel/Nader 2020 (@FalseCorn) August 6, 2016
When you're a rich straight white man in America, pretty much every justice issue is a "boutique issue." #whitePrivilege
— SmartAmerica 🌹 (@SmartAmerica) August 6, 2016
Maher followed up by arguing that progress on issues like transgender equality doesn’t typically start with government and that transgender Americans should just wait for their “Will & Grace” or “Ellen” moments:
“[T]he people who lead on social issues aren’t in Washington anyway — they’re here in Hollywood,” he said. “This transgender thing? Let us handle it like we did with gay rights, which very few cared about until Hollywood put gay people in every single TV show. … We hit them with ‘Glee’ and ‘Ellen’ and ‘Will & Grace’ and ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,’ and pretty soon being gay was just part of our ‘Modern Family.'”
What Maher failed to mention is that gay rights haven’t been “handled,” by Hollywood or anyone else. Fewer than half of U.S. states protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations. And even fewer protect against discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Efforts to pass a national Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ACT) have faltered since it was first introduced in 1994.
Watch the clip below.