Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs, one of the 40 lawmakers who voted against the coronavirus stimulus bill, said he did so in part because the legislation included paid sick leave benefits for domestic partnerships.
“They’ve redefined family for the first time in a federal — in a piece of federal legislation, to include committed relationships,” Biggs said Monday on a radio program produced by the conservative Christian group Family Research Council. “The problem with that is it’s really hard to define a committed relationship, and it’s really hard to define anything related to that.”
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which passed on Friday evening in the House of Representatives, provides expanded coverage for Covid-19 diagnostic tests; broadened unemployment and food stamp benefits; and included provisions to provide tax credits to cover two weeks of limited paid sick leave and up to three months of family and medical leave payments to care for those affected by the novel coronavirus.
The provision that raised Biggs’s ire, which references “committed relationships,” is a subsection of the paid sick leave provision of the bill. It defined children eligible for care under the proposed law as a “biological, foster, or adopted child, a stepchild, a child of a domestic partner.”
The bill went on to further define a domestic partner as two individuals in a “committed relationship,” at least 18 years of age, in which each individual acts as the other’s sole domestic partner with shared responsibility for each others’ common welfare, including couples in same-sex domestic partnerships or same-sex unions.
The legislative text is hardly new, as Biggs contended. The exact same legislative text around domestic partnerships and committed relationships is found in several bills in Congress, including paid sick leave legislation proposed as far back as 2015.
Biggs is a Christian conservative who previously called the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry, an attempt to “redefine marriage” and “an affront to the millions of Americans who believe marriage is between a man and a woman.” He previously served as the Arizona state Senate president, a role which he used to usher in legislation for business owners to assert religious belief in order to refuse service to LGBT people and others.
Other lawmakers objected to the bill because of its costs and the rushed nature of the legislation. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., for instance, told reporters that lawmakers “were not given the opportunity to even read the legislation before [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi forced a vote, and no cost estimate had been prepared.”
During the Family Research Council program, Biggs claimed that he also opposed the coronavirus stimulus bill provisions relating to abortion, claiming falsely that the bill contained measures to repeal the so-called Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding to abortion procedures. The bill has no such legislative text.
“Two provisions that have nothing to do with the coronavirus are basically thrown into this thing,” claimed Biggs. “And that’s just par for the course for the left, the activist left.”