White House Responds to Taylor Swift’s VMAs Call for Supporting Equality Act
The White House has responded to Taylor Swift's political call to action at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards on Monday night (Aug. 26), clarifying that the current administration does not support the Equality Act bill that she called on fans to sign.
Swift took the stage at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Monday night to accept two awards for her "You Need to Calm Down" video, which carries a pro-LGBTQ message celebrating LGBTQ culture and same-sex marriage rights. The video ends with a call to fans to sign a petition urging the Senate to vote for the Equality Act, which, according to the Washington Post, "would provide a national ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation."
Swift took home Video for Good and Music Video of the Year for "You Need to Calm Down," and she challenged the political establishment directly in her acceptance speech for the latter award, pointing out that it was fan-voted.
"So I first want to say thank you to the fans, because in this video, several points were made. So you voting for this video means that you want a world where we are all treated equally under the law regardless of who we love or how we identify," Swift stated.
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"At the end of the video there was a petition and there still is a petition for the Equality Act which basically says we all deserve equal rights under the law. And I want to thank everyone who signed that petition because it now has half a million signatures which is five times the amount that it would need to warrant a response from The White House," Swift added, pointing to her wrist as if to say they were slow in responding to the public will.
Asked about Swift's comments on Tuesday (Aug. 27), White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere stated that the Trump administration rejects discrimination but does not support the Equality Act. The bill has already passed the Democratically-controlled House, but has not come up for a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has control over which bills get considered.
"The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, the House-passed bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights," Deere states (quote via CNN).
The legislation seeks to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. Some conservative critics have called it an overreach, with the conservative publication the National Review opining that the bill "undermines religious freedom, gives males who identify as females the right to women’s spaces, and sets a dangerous political precedent for the medicalization of gender-confused youth."
Swift has been engaging in a newfound level of political discourse since the 2018 mid-term elections, in which she came out in support of a slate of progressive proposals and spoke out against anti-LGBTQ candidates and policies.
The pop superstar recently told Guardian that the current mood in the U.S. is one of “gaslighting the American public into being like, ‘If you hate the president, you hate America,'" adding that President Donald Trump misunderstands the limits of the powers he holds.
“We’re a democracy – at least, we’re supposed to be – where you’re allowed to disagree, dissent, debate," Swift states. "I really think that he thinks this is an autocracy.”
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