When Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona was elected in 2018, LGBTQ Americans across the country were proud to see that an out bisexual woman would soon be taking the Oath of Office—the first in the Senate to do so. The poetic justice of that oath being administered by homophobic then-Vice President Mike Pence made the moment even sweeter.
While Sinema's election offered a promising future to some in 2018, she's clung to antiquity on one consequential issue—and now her LGBTQ constituents are calling her out for it.
This past Tuesday, Republicans blocked vital voting rights legislation in the Senate, despite making up the minority of the body. This was due to the Senate filibuster, which mandates 60 votes to bring most legislation to debate. Though Sinema's constituents say they value a productive Congress more than they respect the filibuster, she's remained steadfast in her opposition to ending or even reforming the rule.
Another piece of legislation that hasn't been brought to the floor due to the certain death by filibuster is the Equality Act, which offers long-sought protections to LGBTQ Americans across the country.
BREAKING: Over 140 Arizona LGBTQ+ leaders release letter calling on @KyrstenSinema to end the filibuster and pass t… https://t.co/JYyDkQS6RY— Kai Newkirk #EndTheFilibuster (@Kai Newkirk #EndTheFilibuster) 1624321543.0
In an open letter, LGBTQ business owners, activists, and community leaders based in Sinema's home state of Arizona wrote:
"You have the power to cast the deciding vote to make [LGBTQ] rights law. 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."
That's when they issued her this ultimatum:
"If you refuse to do this, 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."
People shared their outrage.
I understand @SenatorSinema's reason for wanting to keep the filibuster. But she doesn't understand that @GOP isn't… https://t.co/LcAIRYMo1t— This Week in America Is Vaccinated-Are You? (@This Week in America Is Vaccinated-Are You?) 1624371583.0
@SenatorSinema - You will pay dearly if you do not get in step with the majority of the country that wants to see t… https://t.co/NdlL7CcNRn— HH (@HH) 1624338923.0
Pressure on the Senator continues to mount, and her defenses are withering.
Sinema is wrong, factually, about what she writes here. But she doesn't care. And, as usual, I don't know what to d… https://t.co/7Rw53rJo7u— Elie Mystal (@Elie Mystal) 1624377819.0
Sinema said the filibuster "compels moderation." Manchin said ending it will "destroy our government." Meanwhile,… https://t.co/vieil5YzTL— Robert Reich (@Robert Reich) 1624402507.0
Manchin & Sinema, it is a CHOICE to allow Cruz to celebrate the death of voting rights in America. And that choice… https://t.co/6UNsQ5lmdJ— Brian Tyler Cohen (@Brian Tyler Cohen) 1624403201.0
The filibuster isn't something that exists independent of 50 Senators deciding that its a good idea to exist. Ever… https://t.co/DNuDyHyUJO— Judd Legum (@Judd Legum) 1624402522.0
"So basically Sinema's saying she won't vote to protect 'democracy's guardrails' without approval from the party tr… https://t.co/ZpC4hnwG0i— Mehdi Hasan (@Mehdi Hasan) 1624406849.0
If Kyrsten Sinema had been paying attention to deliberate obstruction by Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans… https://t.co/efmvpjawsS— ReallyAmerican.com 🇺🇸 (@ReallyAmerican.com 🇺🇸) 1624386197.0
Sadly, Sinema shows no signs of changing her position.