When Taylor Swift released her Pride-themed music video for “You Need To Calm Down” on July 17, she called for fans to sign a petition in support of the Equality Act — legislation designed to protect LGBTQ+ Americans from discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. At the MTV Video Music Awards on August 26, she once again encouraged fans to sign. But this time, she used her platform to call out the White House for not responding, despite garnering roughly 500,000 signatures.
“There was a petition, and there still is a petition, for the Equality Act, which basically just says we all deserve equal rights under the law,” the pop star said while accepting the Video of the Year award for her anthem. She also made it abundantly clear that a response from the White House was long overdue: “I want to thank everyone who signed that petition because it now has a half a million signatures, which is five times the amount that it would need to warrant a response from the White House,” she added.
White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere finally issued a statement on Tuesday, August 27. In it, he explained that while the Trump Administration “opposes discrimination,” it doesn’t support the bill as it stands right now.
“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all,” said Deere, according to CNN. “However, the House-passed bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.” As Pitchfork reported, a White House spokesperson used the same terminology in May of this year; at neither point did he explain what exactly those “poison pills” are. The statement also comes mere days after the Trump administration claimed to the Supreme Court that employers should be allowed to fire LGBTQ+ people based on their sexual or gender identity, which would be a form of discrimination.
The Equality Act would offer specific protections for LGBTQ+ people in housing, employment, credit, and more areas; it already passed in the Democratic-controlled House three months ago. However, it has not yet been brought to the Senate floor, which is something that Swift noted in her petition.
“While there’s no information yet as to when the Equality Act will go before the Senate for a vote, we do know this: Politicians need votes to stay in office,” she wrote. “Votes come from the people. Pressure from massive amounts of people is a major way to push politicians towards positive change.” And with more than half a million signatures on her petition to date, it doesn’t seem like the pressure from Swift is going to let up any time soon.