Story at a glance

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced a new set of rules to govern the 117th Congress.
  • These rules include diversity and inclusion measures intended to highlight issues of inequity.
  • One of the rules would promote LGBTQ+ rights through gender-inclusive language.

Yes, the United States Congress does have rules. 

The newly reelected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern introduced a new code of conduct ahead of the 117th Congress that includes "sweeping" reforms and promotes diversity and inclusivity. 


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"Democrats have crafted a package of unprecedented, bold reforms, which will make the House more accountable, transparent and effective in our work to meet the needs of the American people.  These future-focused proposals reflect our priorities as a Caucus and as a Country – including crushing the coronavirus, addressing economic disparity, combating the climate crisis, advancing inclusion, and promoting integrity in government," said Pelosi, who was reelected this past Sunday, in a statement

In addition to permanently establishing an Office of Diversity and Inclusion and other diversity measures, the proposed package would "honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral." Previously, Congress operated under a binary rule that “words importing one gender include the other as well.”

With a record number of LGBTQ+ lawmakers joining the new Congress, the latest rules acknowledge a spectrum of gender identities as well as same-sex relationships. Still, there are no nonbinary representatives in either the House or the Senate, and the nation’s first openly nonbinary lawmaker was elected just last year. 


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Several anti-LGBTQ+ policy lawmakers decried the change, including Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who supported the Defense of Marriage act banning same-sex marriage. 

 

If approved by vote, the rules package would not prevent the use of gendered language, but would rename certain official language. Included in the changes, the Office of the Whistleblower Ombudsman would become the Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds. It would also make steps towards diversifying witness panels at committee hearings and framing legislation through the lens of inequity. 


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Published on Jan 04, 2021