It was December 9, 2010. Joe Manchin, the former Democratic Governor of West Virginia, cast his first vote as a newly-sworn-in U.S. Senator. He voted against repealing the discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
He was the only Democrat to do so.
“As a Senator of just three weeks, I have not had the opportunity to visit and hear the full range of viewpoints from the citizens of West Virginia."
That's the same Joe Manchin who in 1982 had begun his political career as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates.
After nearly three decades of serving as a lawmaker, Secretary of State, and a governor, Senator Manchin felt he wasn't sufficiently well-enough informed to do the right thing and vote to protect America's LGBTQ service men and women.
Fast forward to today, when Joe Manchin has now been in public service for almost 40 years.
On the campaign trail Joe Biden indicated his top priority was passing the LGBTQ Equality Act, legislation that has been introduced into Congress in various forms since the 1970's, even longer than the 73-year old Senator from West Virginia has been in politics. Biden said he wanted to sign the Equality Act into law in his first 100 days.
There are three things getting in the way of legislation that seven out of 10 Americans not only support, but think is already federal law: the filibuster, Republicans, and Joe Manchin. Ironically, Manchin, like Republicans, opposes killing the filibuster and opposes passing the Equality Act.
"A little more than two months into Biden's term," The Daily Beast reports, "Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has taken on the role of perpetual fly in the ointment of progressive legislation. The Equality Act is no exception."
Make no mistake, Manchin is anti-LGBTQ. He opposes same-sex marriage (although agrees it is settled law) and echoing the massive conservative campaign against transgender people, opposes the Equality Act (in part) because, he claims, it does not provide “sufficient guidance to the local officials who will be responsible for implementing it, particularly with respect to students transitioning between genders in public schools."
That is not the function of legislation, that is the function of the Dept. of Education, something Manchin certainly must know.
"In private, according to those familiar, Manchin has been equally skeptical this time around, citing a massive call-in campaign organized by conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation intended to sink the bill. Manchin told one co-sponsor of the Equality Act that the calls to his office were opposed to the legislation 'a thousand to one.'"
The Beast calls getting 60 votes to pass the Equality Act without one of them being Manchin's "functionally impossible, given the Senate's current makeup."