Metro Weekly

Anti-gay Republican congressman voted against COVID-19 relief bill because it “redefined family”

Andy Biggs objected to granting sick leave to same-sex partners and the lack of abortion-specific language in the bill

Congressman Andy Biggs – Photo: Gage Skidmore.

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An anti-gay Republican congressman claims that one of the reasons he voted against a bill to provide relief to Americans impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was because it included an LGBTQ-inclusive definition of a “committed relationship.”

U.S Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), one of 40 House Republicans to vote against a version of the bill on March 14,  told Washington Watch, a radio program produced by the Family Research Council, that he opposed the bill — which provided for paid medical leave, free COVID-19 testing, and increased unemployment insurance — because of two provisions relating to abortion and non-traditional families.

Specifically, Biggs objected to the bill’s definition of what constitutes a “committed relationship” in terms of granting workers paid sick leave. The bill defines the term as two individuals, age 18 or older, who share responsibility for their common welfare as the other’s sole domestic partner — including same-sex couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships.

The bill also defines a “child” as any “biological, foster, or adopted child, a stepchild, a child of a domestic partner, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis” when determining if a person is eligible for sick leave, reports The Hill.

“They’ve redefined family for the first time in a piece of federal legislation to include committed relationships, and the problem with that of course is it’s really hard to define a committed relationship,” Biggs lamented.

However, The Intercept reported that similar language has previously been introduced in Congress several times, including in paid sick leave legislation proposed as far back as 2015 — undercutting Biggs’ claims that the introduction of LGBTQ-inclusive language is unique or new.

See also: Christian radio host says COVID-19 stops children being “brainwashed into normalizing sexual deviancy”

Biggs has previously expressed vehement opposition to same-sex marriage, calling it an “affront” to millions of Americans, and has consistently voted against pro-LGBTQ amendments or pieces of legislation during his time in Congress.

As Arizona Senate President, he supported a bill that would have allowed business owners to refuse service to LGBTQ people by citing their religiously-based opposition to homosexuality or same-sex marriage.

Biggs also previously served as a policy advisor to United Families International, a socially conservative organization that has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group.” His wife, Cindy Biggs, was the treasurer of that organization, which has previously lobbied against expansions of LGBTQ rights.

The organization has previously said that LGBTQ people can leave the gay lifestyle and opined that people should “discourage homosexuality,” even falsely claiming that “pedophilia is widespread among the homosexual community.”

Biggs also told Washington Watch that he objected to a provision intended to reimburse private insurers for covering the costs of COVID-19 testing.

According to Biggs, the lack of language explicitly barring taxpayer dollars from being spent on abortion is an attempt to undermine the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing budgetary rider that prohibits federal funds from covering the cost of abortion-related services.

See also: Conservative pastor blames coronavirus on same-sex marriage

Conservative news outlets have expressed concerns, as voiced in an article in National Review, that the lack of language explicitly addressing abortion funding could “establish a precedent under which health claims for all procedures, including abortion, could be reimbursed with federal funds” in the future. Some have even falsely claimed that Democrats added in language specifically overturning the Hyde Amendment. 

“Two provisions that have nothing to do with the coronavirus are basically thrown into this thing,” Biggs said, “and that’s just par for the course for the left.”

The LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD blasted Biggs’ comments as out-of-touch and callow.

“While LGBTQ couples can be rightfully recognized in marriage today, many LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ Americans remain in domestic partnerships,” GLAAD Chief Communications Officer Rich Ferraro told Newsweek in a statement. “Voting to harm his LGBTQ constituents and their children is nothing new, but using COVID-19 to do it is a new low for Representative Biggs.

“Representative Biggs’ constituents, his wife Cindy Biggs, and their family should be ashamed and angry that during a national crisis when Americans are coming together, Representative Biggs is busy continuing his long campaign to harm LGBTQ families and also using his unethical relationships with anti-LGBTQ hate groups like the Family Research Council to inaccurately claim this relief bill would ‘redefine family,'” Ferraro added.

Read more:

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Closing Calls: DC’s LGBTQ bars and restaurants respond to coronavirus

Local health providers scale back non-essential services in response to COVID-19 pandemic

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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