More than 140 LGBTQ+ activists in Arizona have signed an open letter to out bisexual Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) demanding that she support an end to the antiquated filibuster. The activists and donors threaten to pull their support of the senator if she doesn’t actually help the LGBTQ people who made sure she won her seat.
Getting rid of the filibuster could be the only path toward passing the Equality Act, of which Sinema is a sponsor and which would provide comprehensive federal protections for the LGBTQ+ community.
“As the first openly Bisexual member of the Senate, we look to you to lead in the fight for queer and transgender civil rights, to protect our people from violence and discrimination,” reads the letter, which has been signed by queer business owners, activists and community leaders.
It also points out that Phoenix alone has a higher percentage of queer and transgender people than Chicago, New York City, or Silicon Valley.
“You have the power to cast the deciding vote to make [queer and trans] rights law,” the letter continued. “Our right to exist, and the rights of black and brown transgender women to live are not up for debate or compromise. Unless we end the filibuster, the Equality Act has no chance of passing the Senate in this polarized climate.”
With the Senate evenly divided, Sinema’s support for landmark progressive priorities like civil rights legislation, increasing the minimum wage, and infrastructure repair and investment is critical.
Republicans, however, can filibuster and force the Senate to require 60 votes to proceed to an actual vote. Democrats have the ability to change the rules – allowing them to pass legislation with only 51 votes since Vice President Kamala Harris (D) would break the tie vote.
But so far, Sinema has refused to support ending the filibuster.
“The idea of the filibuster was created by those who came before us in the United States Senate to create comity and to encourage senators to find bipartisanship and work together,” Sinema said in early June, according to the NYTimes, which proceeded to instantly debunk her claim and explain that the filibuster was actually created by mistake in 1806 when the Senate forgot to include a provision in its rule book to cut off debate. It has since been used repeatedly as a way to prevent civil rights bills from passing.
While serving in the Arizona state legislature and in her earliest runs for federal office, Sinema positioned herself as a progressive proud member of the LGBTQ community. But lately, she has repeatedly been taking heat for derailing President Joe Biden’s progressive agenda to rebuild America. She has become one of the biggest obstacles to LGBTQ civil rights, raising the minimum wage, and voting rights.
An OH Predictive Insights’ Arizona Public Opinion Pulse poll last March showed support for Synema plummeting. Although the results were within the margin of error, the poll shows that her unfavorable ratings outweighed positive reviews of her performance.
Joan Arrow, the activist who initiated the letter to Sinema, told them. that after she volunteered on Sinema’s campaign, her stances are a “real betrayal.”
“I wasn’t out of the closet when I was knocking on doors for Kyrsten Sinema,” Arrow said. “But I knew in my soul that we need more LGBTQ senators in positions of power because our people need to be protected. I believed the lies that Sinema told to get elected, that she would look out for us.”
Activist and letter signatory Brianna Westbrook told them. that Democrats may only have a limited time to get the Equality Act passed.
“My worst fear is Republicans taking back the Senate and potentially the House in 2022,” Westbrook said.
“Our country shifts toward the right, and in 2024, either Trump or somebody else runs and gets elected. The short window of time that we have with the Biden administration will be gone. We’re going down a dangerous path, and I don’t want to envision that future if we don’t do the things that [Biden was] elected to do.”
The letter to Sinema ended by telling her that if she failed to change her stance on the filibuster, she would lose the support of the signatories.
“If you refuse to do this,” it said, “we will have no choice but to seriously consider whether our support for you, including financial donations, may better serve our community if directed to another Democrat who will use their power as a US Senator to stand up for our rights.”