Gay Congressmember Leads the Way as House Impeaches Trump

Out gay Congressmember David Cicilline of Rhode Island arrives at the US Capitol on January 11.
Reuters/Joshua Roberts

The House of Representatives, led in part by out gay impeachment manager David Cicilline of Rhode Island, voted to impeach President Donald Trump exactly seven days after he directed a mob of his supporters to invade the US Capitol.

With support from 10 Republicans, the lower chamber voted 232-197 to impeach the president for a second time on January 13, capping off a whirlwind week during which widespread calls for Trump’s removal were echoed by LGBTQ groups and lawmakers across the nation.

Cicilline and Congressmembers Ted Lieu of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, and Jerrold Nadler of New York first introduced the impeachment resolution on January 11, hitting Trump for repeatedly issuing “false statements asserting that the presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials… He also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.'”

House Democrats further charged that Trump “gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government. He thereby betrayed his trust as president, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

Tear gas was unleashed alongside a confederate flag that read “Come and Take It” at the Capitol on January 6.Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

Democrats in the lower chamber moved with unprecedented speed to bring impeachment to the floor in the days following the deadly attack on the Capitol. The House first passed a resolution January 12 asking Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the president, but when Pence dismissed that idea, lawmakers moved ahead with impeachment.

Many out queer congressmembers immediately called for impeachment following the attack, which left many lawmakers horrified after they described close encounters with bigoted Trump supporters who descended on the Capitol as Congress prepared to certify the results of the 2020 election.

Every out LGBTQ member of the House joined Cicilline as co-sponsors in the impeachment effort, including Ritchie Torres, Mondaire Jones, and Sean Patrick Maloney of New York; Chris Pappas of New Hampshire; Sharice Davids of Kansas; Angie Craig of Minnesota; Mark Takano of California; and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin.

Torres — who just took office in the days ahead of the attack — offered a brief but direct speech on the House floor ahead of the impeachment vote.

“The dangerous mob that Donald Trump unleashed on the United States Capitol represents a violent assault on the separation of powers and on the peaceful transfer of power that we have long taken for granted.,” Torres said. “The impeachment of Donald Trump is not politics but law, not passion but reason, not vengeance but justice, and we as the people’s representative must rise to the challenge of defending democraacy in the face of its gravest threat and we will.”

The insurrectionists made their way through police checkpoints, vandalized the Capitol building, ransacked offices, and shattered windows in a chaotic scene that left five people dead and raised numerous questions about why some law enforcement officers allowed the attackers to march into the heart of the federal government. Many who joined the mob were donning racist apparel and some individuals placed a noose on full display.

The few out members of Congress who did not quickly jump on board the impeachment train eventually came around to it in a matter of days. They were joined by a long list of LGBTQ groups from across the nation that demanded action to oust the president immediately. Those groups included Athlete Ally, GLSEN, the Equality Federation, GLAAD, Lambda Legal, the National Black Justice Coalition, SAGE, The National Center for Transgender Equality, Transgender Law Center, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National LGBTQ Task Force, and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, among countless others.

Some Republicans, meanwhile, increasingly warmed up to the idea of impeachment in the wake of the attack, and the New York Times reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who will soon become the minority leader — believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and is glad Democrats moved to impeach him. Republican Congressmember Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who holds the third-highest position among House GOP members, also voted for impeachment despite representing a state that overwhelmingly voted for Trump.

The impeachment vote triggers a Senate trial and the upper chamber requires a two-thirds vote in order to convict the president. Trump’s fate in the Senate, which for the time being remains in Republican hands, is less certain.

McConnell has signaled his intention to hold off on a Senate trial until lawmakers return from recess, which concludes one day before President-Elect Joe Biden takes office.

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