Representative Mark Pocan Slams GOP for Opposing Equality Act With 'Nasty, Hateful QAnon Spirit'

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Representative Mark Pocan slammed members of the GOP Thursday for opposing the Equality Act with a "nasty and hateful" spirit, before the chamber narrowly passed the bill to advance LGBTQ rights.

Speaking from the House floor, the Wisconsin Democrat said he had originally prepared a speech to discuss what the legislation would mean for him and his husband. But following opposition from the Republican Party and a series of anti-transgender actions by GOP Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Pocan said he decided to change course.

I had a different speech prepared today—about the Equality Act and what it would mean to me & my husband of 16 years, Phil.

But then the @GOP showed just how willing they are to attack their colleagues, trans kids, & put their prejudice so openly on display.

They are bigots. pic.twitter.com/ABOQGNfkYM

— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) February 25, 2021

"I was going to talk about the need for equal treatment under the law, for everyone regardless of who they love.... But the QAnon vibe in this chamber has gone too far," Pocan said.

"This new QAnon spirit across the aisle is occurring in a nasty and hateful way. A lead GOP opponent of this bill actually posted an anti-trans poster on the wall outside her office, directly and intentionally across from a Democratic member of Congress with a trans daughter," Pocan said.

Pocan's remarks came after Greene hung up an anti-trans poster on Wednesday outside of the office of Illinois Representative Marie Newman and attacked the congresswoman on Twitter. The poster declared that there are only "two genders."

Newman, who spoke in Congress this week in support of the Equality Act, has a transgender daughter. In response to Greene's actions, Newman hung a transgender pride flag outside of her door.

"Is that where we are here today?" Pocan asked on Thursday. "Who can out-crazy, out-tastelessly act to prove to the base that they'll say or do anything to score points and show how inconsiderate they can be to a colleague to just get social media clickbait?"

Mark Pocan
U.S. Representative Mark Pocan joins members of Congress at an event to demand renewal of the assault weapons ban on July 12, 2016. Leigh Vogel/Getty

Pocan's statements came hours before the House moved to pass the legislation in a 224-206 vote, almost entirely along party lines. The bill will now be sent to the Senate, where it will likely face GOP opposition in the chamber, which is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans.

If passed, the bill would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act and have a significant impact on the roughly 9 million Americans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Its most immediate effects would include stronger tools for active litigation and LGBTQ inclusion in federally funded programs related to housing, health care and education.

"In practical terms, the Equality Act would greatly expand access to federally funded programs that LGBTQ youth disproportionately need, such as services related to homelessness and violence," Casey Pick, a senior advocacy fellow for the Trevor Project, previously told Newsweek.

"Additionally, knowing that discrimination is legally forbidden will make LGBTQ youth more likely to actually seek out these services in times of need," Pick said.

But some Republicans, including Greene, have argued that the Equality Act would violate religious freedoms and could encroach on women's rights within sports, prisons and public bathrooms.

"Some are debating that this bill discriminates based on religion, which it doesn't," Pocan said Thursday. "Some are debating an even sillier notion that somehow a man will pretend to be a woman to win in sports—a crazy, made-up, fantasy notion."

He added, "A vote against the Equality Act is a vote for discrimination, plain and simple."

Newsweek contacted Pocan for additional comment, but his communications director did not provide a statement beyond the congressman's speech.