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In response to Taylor Swift’s advocacy, Kellyanne Conway starts singing one of her songs

White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway speaks to members of the media on Aug. 19 at the White House. (Leah Millis/Reuters)
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Taylor Swift wants the White House to heed her call to pass the Equality Act, which would explicitly outlaw discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s response to the pop star?

“I actually like the new Taylor Swift song,” she said Tuesday on Fox News. “It’s called ‘You Need to Calm Down.’ ”

Invoking the hit that Swift performed at the MTV Video Music Awards on Monday — and used as a platform in her increasing embrace of political advocacy — Conway even broke into song, smiling into the camera.

“If you say it on the street, that’s a knockout,” she said to a tune, borrowing Swift’s lyrics. “If you put it in a tweet, that’s a cop-out.”

“I love that,” she said. “That basically is Washington in a nutshell."

Accepting the Video of the Year award for “You Need to Calm Down” on Monday, Swift highlighted the petition featured at the end of the video, which also won Video for Good: a call for the Senate to pass the Equality Act, signed by half a million people at the time of her speech. That’s five times the number of signatures needed to “warrant a response from the White House,” Swift reminded a cheering audience as she tapped her wrist, as if to say, “Hurry up.” Petitions require a response if they reach 100,000 signatures within 30 days, according to the White House’s website.

Yellow lights spelled out “Equality Act” as Swift performed the tune, which Tuesday morning was ranked No. 14 and trending upward on the Billboard Hot 100.

In May, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed, along mostly partisan lines, the Equality Act, which seeks to extend the 1964 Civil Rights Act that guards Americans from discrimination in areas such as employment, housing and education. Only eight Republicans joined House Democrats in approving the bill.

The Republican-led Senate has yet to vote on the legislation. The White House has indicated President Trump would veto the measure.

As The Washington Post’s Colby Itkowitz reported this year:

Democrats cast the decades-in-the-making move to change the 1964 Civil Rights Act as a historic step to extend protections to LGBTQ Americans, with several gay and bisexual lawmakers emphasizing the need for the bill called the Equality Act.
Republicans warned of the threat to religious freedom and argued that the measure could undermine women’s rights, with men who identify as women taking spots on women’s sports teams and denying them athletics scholarships.
— The Washington Post

In her Fox News interview, Conway said Swift is “welcome to her opinion” but indicated the White House does not share it. Trump supports equality, she said, but not “pieces of legislation that have poison pills in it that could harm other people.” She did not specify what the “poison pills” were, and Conway and the White House did not elaborate to The Post on Tuesday.

“When something is named something, it’s not always truly that,” Conway said on Fox. Earlier in the segment, after a clip of award-show attendees going wild over Swift’s mention of her petition, Conway said she would “love to just survey the audience if they know what [the Equality Act] even is.”

Deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere also referenced “poison pills” when asked about Swift’s comments: The bill the House approved would “undermine parental and conscience rights,” he told CNN.

Conway spoke critically of political moves from Hollywood stars that she said often backfire, pointing to Swift’s advocacy for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen, who lost the Tennessee race last year to Trump’s preferred candidate, Republican Marsha Blackburn.

Swift cited Blackburn’s opposition to the Violence Against Women Act and same-sex marriage last year when she endorsed Bredesen, in what commentators called her first public political stance. Swift wrote on Instagram at the time that she previously hesitated to speak openly about her political views but felt “very differently” after personal and world events of the past two years.

The singer’s Equality Act petition continues that evolution.

“Our country’s lack of protection for its own citizens ensures that LGBTQ people must live in fear that their lives could be turned upside down by an employer or landlord who is homophobic or transphobic,” her petition reads, adding later, “Let’s show our pride by demanding that, on a national level, our laws truly treat all of our citizens equally.”

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