News (USA)

Stars of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” will soon school House lawmakers on LGBTQ+ rights

"Drag Race" competitor Jiggly Caliente
"Drag Race" competitor Jiggly Caliente Photo: YouTube screenshot

Three drag stars — including two past competitors of RuPaul’s Drag Race — are going to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to lobby House lawmakers about increasing protections for the LGBTQ+ community at a time when homophobia and transphobia are rampant.

Jiggly Caliente and Joey Jay — who appeared on past seasons of Drag Race — and Austin, Texas-based drag activist Brigitte Bandit are visiting the Capitol as a part of Drag Lobby Day, an event organized by MoveOn Political Action.

Caliente, Bandit, and Jay will focus on meeting with “lawmakers of vulnerable, battleground Republican districts — especially those with a high population of LGBTQ+ residents,” said Britt Jacovich, MoveOn’s press secretary.

The queens are specifically lobbying for the Equality Act, which seeks to amend existing civil rights laws to provide explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. The bill would include sexual orientation and gender identity as legally protected classes. This includes “The Transgender Bill of Rights,” a proposed resolution that aims to strengthen civil rights protections for transgender and nonbinary individuals. While House Democrats reintroduced both initiatives last year, progress on both bills has stalled due to Republican congressional opposition.

“MAGA Republicans have been viciously assaulting the rights and freedoms of the LGBTQ+ community for far too long. Our bodies and lives are on the line, and we will not be silenced,” Nakia Stephens, MoveOn’s campaigns director, told The Hill.

So far, six Republican-led states have passed legislation restricting drag performances, including Florida, Montana, Texas, and Tennessee. Tennessee’s law was declared unconstiutional by a federal judge. Similarly, a Montana federal judge blocked the enforcement of a law restricting drag shows and banning them at libraries and schools. Federal judges blocked similar laws in Florida and Texas. When not being legally restricted, drag queens still face protests and threats.

In March of this year, the Supreme Court upheld a public Texas university’s ban on drag shows on campus. According to the ACLU, there have been 522 anti-LGBTQ bills brought forward this year, including drag bans or restrictions.

“The demonization of drag performers and hatred spewed by some of my Republican colleagues is both incredibly harmful to the performers themselves, as well as to any LGBTQIA person who expresses and presents themselves outside of the set of strict gender norms imposed by conservative politicians in Washington,” said Rep. Jasmine Crockett, (D). Crockett will be attending the rally after the drag performers speak to the House.

“The lobby day comes on the heels of new polling out today from Navigator Research finding that a healthy majority of Americans across the political spectrum support federal legislation protecting LGTBQ+ individuals from discrimination, and oppose elected officials who aim to restrict these freedoms or would ban health care for transgender people,” Move On said in a press release.

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