Fact check: Quote falsely attributed to Jerry Nadler

The claim: Jerry Nadler said, ‘God has no authority in the House of Representatives’

Shortly after the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, social media users began sharing a purported quote from Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., about the bill. 

A Feb. 26 Facebook post claims Nadler said, “God has no authority in the House of Representatives.” Accompanying the text is an image of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler. The post has over 500 shares and 100 reactions.

The image claims the statement was made on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, at 3:45 p.m. EST “in a hearing televised on C-Span.” 

Other users on Facebook have also sharedsimilarversions of the claim. USA TODAY reached out to them for comment. 

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Nadler is misquoted

On Feb. 25 in a 224-206 vote, the House passed the Equality Act, which would amend civil rights laws including the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect people from being discriminated against on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, USA TODAY reported. 

The legislation includes anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans in employment, education, housing, credit and jury service and other areas. A similar version of the bill was passed in May 2019, which eight Republicans voted for, but it later died in the then-Republican controlled Senate.

Three Republican representatives voted in favor of the Equality Act and some GOP House members criticized the legislation ahead of the vote arguing that it threatened religious beliefs and freedoms.

“A woman must not wear men’s clothing nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this,” Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., said during the floor debate on the legislation.  “It’s not clothing or personal style that offends God, but rather the use of one’s appearance to act out or take on a sexual identity different from the one biologically assigned by God at birth.” 

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Steube said that “the gender confusion that exists in our culture today is a clear rejection of God’s good design” and that “whenever a nation’s laws no longer reflect the standards of God, that nation is in rebellion against him and will inevitably bear the consequences.”

Nadler pushed back in response and said, “Mr. Steube, what any religious tradition describes as God’s will is no concern of this Congress.” Nadler did not say that “God has no authority in the House of Representatives,” as the post claims.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks as Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.; Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.; Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. listen during a news conference ahead of the House vote on the Equality Act on Capitol Hill on Thursday. An earlier version of this caption misidentified the state Sen. Tammy Baldwin represents. She represents Wisconsin. (Photo: Al Drago, Getty Images)

“You used God to enslave my foreparents. You used God to segregate me in schools. You used God to put me in the back of the bus. Have you no shame?” Rep. Al Green of Texas who is African American said, also responding to Steube’s invocation of religion as a reason to oppose the bill.

Nadler argued for the Equality Act on the House floor and said in a statement that the “long overdue legislation will provide millions of LGBTQ Americans explicit protections from being denied medical care, fired from their jobs, or thrown out of their homes simply because of who they are.”

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Our rating: False 

The claim that Rep. Jerry Nadler said, “God has no authority in the House of Representatives” is FALSE, based on our research. Nadler said, “What any religious tradition describes as God’s will is no concern of this Congress” apparently referring to the principle of separation of church and state. 

Our fact-check sources: 

  • USA TODAY, Feb. 25, Equality Act with LGBTQ protections passes House, faces uncertain future in Senate
  • Govtrack.us, accessed Feb. 28, H.R. 5: Equality Act
  • C-SPAN, Feb. 25, U.S. House of Representatives House Session
  • Congressman Jerry Nadler, Feb. 25, Chairman Nadler Floor Statement in Support of H.R. 5, the Equality Act

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