Commentary

Kyrsten Sinema earns adoration from GOP & Rick Santorum for opposing filibuster reform

Kyrsten Sinema
Sen. Kyrsten SinemaPhoto: Gage Skidmore/via Wikipedia

In a recently revealed video, several notoriously anti-LGBTQ politicians, chief among them former Senator Rick Santorum, tell an audience that they should thank none other than Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) for the prevention of LGBTQ rights.

By now, Sinema’s opposition to filibuster reform is well known. Sinema and fellow Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) have effectively become the poster children for safeguarding a rule that effectively makes 60 votes required to pass any legislation through the Senate.

Related: Activists issue ultimatum to Kyrsten Sinema. Defend LGBTQ civil rights or we’ll elect someone else.

As a Democrat in a heavily Republican state, Manchin’s opposition makes some sense politically. Sinema’s stand, on the other hand, is a head-scratcher. As an out bisexual woman and co-sponsor of the Equality Act, Sinema simultaneously supports LGBTQ protections from discrimination while ensuring that they never become law.

Republicans are never going to vote for her because of her support for progressive causes, and her own base feels betrayed by her actions of late.

However, Sinema has found favor among a certain group: far-right, anti-LGBTQ Republicans.

In a video posted on Twitter by Democratic activist Lauren Windsor, a trio of conservative Congressmen are heard expressing their gratitude to Sinema and Manchin for their willingness to keep the filibuster intact.

The video was secretly recorded at a gathering of House Republicans as they spoke to a small audience. The remarks made underscore the Republican Party’s reliance on the filibuster to ensure little to none of President Joe Biden’s agenda passes.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) is the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, a band of right-wing Republican members of Congress. He voted against a COVID-19 testing bill last year because it allowed the use of sick leave by LGBTQ people to take care of their partner’s children. Biggs complained that the bill “redefined family.”

More recently, Biggs was grousing about the NFL’s pro-LGBTQ campaign. “Identity politics don’t win Super Bowls,” he complained. It safe to say he would not support LGBTQ rights, since he voted against the Equality Act and touts a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign.

“Fortunately for us, the filibuster is still in effect in the Senate,” Biggs said at the meeting.

“Without it, we would be dead meat.”

He added, “Thank goodness for Sinema and Joe Manchin.”

Biggs was joined in his praise of Sinema by one of only two Black Republicans in Congress, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL).

Donalds was a Florida state legislator prior to being elected to Congress last year. In that role, he was part of a group of Republicans who introduced four anti-LGBTQ bills in the 2020 legislative session. The bills would have banned health care for transgender children, repealed local nondiscrimination protections, and legalized conversion therapy.

In the video of the meeting, Donalds joked about consoling Sinema and Manchin for attacks from the progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who pushed back on Sinema’s defense of the filibuster.

“I can go to Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema and say, ‘hey guys, you know, I’m really sorry you having to go through that, I really thank you for standing for the country,'” he boasted to the audience.

“If you want to do one thing to keep the country afloat,” Donalds added, call Manchin’s and Sinema’s offices and “thank them for keeping the filibuster intact.”

Perhaps the most outrageous source of praise was from former Senator and political commentator Rick Santorum. Before being fired from CNN last month, Santorum built his career on attacking LGBTQ people and once notoriously equated marriage equality with pedophilia and bestiality.

He singled out Sinema, having nothing but good things to say about her. “Call Kyrsten Sinema and say thank you,” Santorum told the group in the video.

Sinema’s support for the filibuster prevents majority rule, according to Santorum himself.

“We have a bunch of people running around, particularly progressives, who all they want to talk about is, well, let the people’s will be done,” Santorum said.

“No, no, no, no, we don’t want the people’s will to be done immediately.”

As the saying goes, you can choose your friends. That some of the worst anti-LGBTQ politicians consider Sinema an ally tells you a lot about where her allegiances lie.

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