NY Rep. Ritchie Torres on passing Equality Act in the House

The first openly gay Afro-Latino in Congress discusses the transgender sports ban and other LGBTQ+ issues being addressed in Congress.
5:16 | 06/10/21

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Transcript for NY Rep. Ritchie Torres on passing Equality Act in the House
As we all celebrate pride month, we are very excited to welcome our next guest, the first openly lgbtq afro-latino member of congress. There was a lot of emphasis when you said yes. For a lot of reasons. A friend of the show. The third time on the show. But it's his first time in the studio. Look at who we got here. New York congressman Ritchie torres. It's okay to give the man applause. Good to have you here. Good to see you. The first time we talked to you on this show was just a couple of days after you had been elected and you were talking about how excited your mom was, that single mom that raised you, right? What does she think now? She is the proudest mother in America. When I came to freshman orientation and I had dinner with my mother and this is the first time I am having dinner with a congressman. Putting a smile on my face, doing great. That's one of the first thing, that smile. Still there. Still got the twinkle. How long will it last? I'm hoping forever, right. It's an important selling point of politics. Tell us down to the work, and let's go to the equality act first of all, we were just discussing it before it came on, look, it got through the house and that's something we're celebrating and then now what? What is going to happen? Is there any chance that an equality act is ever going to get through the senate? Well, the greatest obstacle in the path to progress is the filibuster. The filibuster has become a graveyard for everything good in the world. Even the lgbtq community has made progress, we have to be careful not to declare mission accomplished. You know, the vast majority of lgbtq Americans live in states that offer no protection against discrimination, based on sexual orientation or gender identity. So for our community, the equality act is the holy grail of equality. It would expand the civil rights act to protect the lgbtq community, and as far as I'm concerned, it is based on a simple proposition, that no one should be evicted or denied critical services or accommodations or fired simply because of who you are or who you love. And not only are there states that don't protect those rights, but we know there are a lot of states right now that are passing laws against the transgender community. What do you make of that trend, what we're seeing happening state to state, actually makes laws against the transgender community. Well, since homophobia is becoming increasingly socially unacceptable, the Republican party's waging a shameful campaign of fearmongering and scapegoating, specifically targeting the transcommunity. And just like you know, Donald Trump's anti-asian rhetoric led to anti-asian hate crimes, the Republican party's anti-trans rhetoric has led to anti-transhate crimes, according to the human rights campaign, there has been an historic number of murders against members of the transgender community, so words have consequences and that shameful campaign that the Republican party is waging is inciting violence. You mentioned filibuster and the senate trying to get the equality act to actually become law. The president has has had a tough time trying to work out a compromise in the senate over infrastructure and voting rights. Do you see either one of those very important pieces of legislation actually making it to the finish line? Look, we no longer live in a democracy. We live under the tyranny of Joe Manchin, so we are all at the whim of Joe Manchin, and as far as infrastructure is concerned, I'm in favor of going through reconciliation, which is exempt from the filibuster. I feel like we live in the makings of an fdr moment, we have an opportunity to govern as bodily in the 21st as fdr in the 20th century and I feel we should go through reconciliation and make the boldest possible investments in the future of America. You talk about your district known as one of the poorest in the country, maybe the poorest in the country, but you talked about it during the pandemic, that also that it shows it is the most essential because we talk about mom, single mom, mothers of color who have kept this economy, kept this country going, through a pandemic, and now that we seem to be, I would hesitate to say we're coming out of it but yes we are, we should say that openly, what happens to your district now, what happens to those folks who we did give focus and attention to, and highlight, what happens to them? Are we going to keep them at top O mind? How do we do that? The bronx has a long road to recovery. We were hit the earliest and the hardest by covid-19, and the first to be struck by covid-19 but the last to be served with programs like ppe. And the unemployment rate was as highs as 25%. There were families in danger of facing eviction during covid-19. The digital divide deprived many of our students of their fundamental right to an education. So I'm concerned the consequences of all these problems are going to endure long after the pandemic, but what gives me hope is the essential workers, you know, the workers who put their lives, who put their lives at risk, on the front lines so that the rest of the city could safely shelter in place. Those people give me hope. Congressman Ritchie torres, we are so appreciative of your time, so happy to have you here in the studio us with, and we hope you come on back. And we're going to invite you but we got to get your mom. We need mama torres. That's right. Congressman, good to see you. Coming up folks, on "Gma3,"

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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