White House Responds to Taylor Swift's Push for Equality Act in VMA Acceptance Speech

Swift promoted the pro-LGBTQ Equality Act during her acceptance speech for video of the year at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards

Taylor Swift has received a response from the White House — but it might not be what she was hoping for.

On Monday evening, Swift, 29, took home video of the year for “You Need to Calm Down” at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards. The pro-LGBTQ music video, produced by Todrick Hall, featured a petition at the end urging the Senate to vote on the Equality Act.

During her acceptance speech at the VMAs, the singer continued to show her support for the act, which would prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, by calling on the White House to respond to their petition.

“We deserve equal rights under the law. I want to thank everyone who signed that petition because it has half a million signatures, which is five times the amount it would need to warrant a response from the White House,” Swift said while making a conspicuous checking-my-watch gesture.

Barack Obama‘s administration had a policy of responding to petitions with a certain amount of signatures, which Swift was referring to, though President Donald Trump has not continued that.

<a href="https://people.com/tag/taylor-swift/" data-inlink="true">Taylor Swift</a>
Taylor Swift. Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Shutterstock

Swift, who recently released her Lover album, also backed the Equality Act petition during her VMAs opener when her “You Need to Calm Down” performance concluded with the words “Equality Act” largely written behind her dancers.

The following day, however, White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told PEOPLE in a statement that the Trump administration “opposes discrimination of any kind,” but would not be supporting the bill.

“The Trump Administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, the House-passed bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights,” Deere said on Tuesday.

The statement on behalf of the White House was identical to the one issued back in May ahead of Swift’s Equality Act petition launch.

<a href="https://people.com/tag/taylor-swift/" data-inlink="true">Taylor Swift</a>, Donald Trump
Jamie McCarthy/Getty; SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty

In June, shortly before Pride month officially began, the singer shared a copy of a letter she had written to Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican, urging him to support the Equality Act.

Although the legislation was passed by the House in May, many Republicans have spoken out against it.

“I personally reject the President’s stance that his administration, ‘Supports equal treatment of all,’ but that the Equality Act, ‘in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights,'” Swift wrote. “That statement implies that there is something morally wrong with being anything other than heterosexual and cisgender, which is an incredibly harmful message to send to a nation full of healthy and loving families with same-sex, nonbinary or transgender parents, sons or daughters.”

<a href="https://people.com/tag/taylor-swift/" data-inlink="true">Taylor Swift</a>
Taylor Swift. Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Besides speaking out about the Equality Act, Swift has also voiced her disapproval for President Trump and the messages he sends to the public.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, the singer said, “[He’s] gaslighting the American public into being like, ‘if you hate the president, you hate America,'” Swift said. “We’re a democracy — at least, we’re supposed to be — where you’re allowed to disagree, dissent, debate.”

“I really think that he thinks this is an autocracy,” Swift added, in reference to the system of government in which one person has absolute power. “I just can’t believe this is happening,” Swift said, vowing to “do everything I can for 2020.”

• Reporting by ADAM CARLSON

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