PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Congressman David Cicilline probably didn’t expect this kind of support in his wildest dreams.
Pop megastar and part-time Westerly resident Taylor Swift on Monday released her new music video, “You Need to Calm Down,” a Pride-timed anthem of support for LGBT Americans. She ends it with a screen that urges listeners to contact their U.S. senators about supporting the Equality Act, sponsored by Cicilline.
The bill — which is arguably the most high-profile measure Cicilline has introduced — would revise the 1964 Civil Rights Act to bar discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. It passed the Democratic-controlled House last month but has not yet been scheduled for a vote by Republican Senate leaders.
Supporters describe the bill as a long overdue effort to grant equal rights to gay, lesbian and transgender Americans. Critics have focused on whether the bill would require that transgender women be allowed to use girl’s locker rooms and play women’s sports.
Swift’s endorsement instantly gave the Equality Act new cultural cachet. Billboard ran a story on Monday headlined, “Everything You Need to Know About The Equality Act & Taylor Swift’s Petition to Pass It.”
Unsurprisingly, Cicilline welcomed the help. “Taylor Swift is an incredible talented singer who is beloved by fans in Rhode Island and across America,” he said. “I’m grateful that she’s lending her support to the Equality Act as we continue fighting to get this bill through the Senate.”
Cicilline can’t claim Swift as a constituent, however: her Westerly mansion lies in Rhode Island’s 2nd District, represented by fellow Democrat Jim Langevin.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook