Eight Republicans Join House Democrats In Vote to Ban LGBT Discrimination

May 17, 2019 by Dan McCue
Giselle and Cindy Sanchez, 19, cheer on and wave flags on the parade route during Miami Beach's 11th annual LGBT "Pride" Parade on Sunday, April 7, 2019. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald/TNS)

Eight House Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues Friday in voting in favor of legislation banning discrimination against members of the LGBT community.

H.R. 5, also known as The Equality Act, was jointly introduced in both the House and the Senate on March 13, 2019. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system.

Last week the legislation was endorsed by the New Democrat Coalition. The group comprised of 101 forward-thinking and fiscally responsible Democrats, has long pushed for equal rights legislation to protect members of the LGBT community.

Immediately after the vote, Representative Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., the coalition’s chairman, said, “Every American deserves to have access to the same basic civil rights, regardless of who they are or whom they love.

“I’m proud to represent a state that provides protections to ensure that LGBT Washingtonians don’t face discrimination, but it’s important that Congress passed vital legislation today to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBT Americans in every corner of the nation,” Kilmer continued. “Fairness and equality are core American values, and our LGBT friends and neighbors should be guaranteed the same basic civil rights and opportunities as anyone else – whether they’re dealing with employment, education, credit, jury service, federal funding, housing, or starting a family.”

The eight GOP lawmakers who backed the Equality Act were Representatives Susan Brooks, R-Ind., Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., Will Hurd. R-Texas, John Katko R-N.Y., Tom Reed, R-N.Y., Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Greg Walden, R-Ore.

Katko, the chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, said in a statement that he was pleased the bill will set a uniform standard against discrimination in all states.

The bill expands federal civil rights laws to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans from discrimination in employment, public education, housing and other areas.

“In New York, this bill is already law,” Katko said. “The legislation before the House today, which has strong support in the business and manufacturing community, creates a uniform and clear federal standard for addressing discrimination.”

Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee said in a statement that with their vote, members of his party reaffirmed their support for the equitable and fair treatment of LGBT people.

“Seven in ten Americans support protections for LGBT people, but President Trump is standing in the way,” Perez said. “This administration has been ruthless in its efforts to undo the progress we’ve made toward LGBT equality. From access to health care to the ability to serve in uniform, this president and his administration have dragged us backwards when it comes to LGBT rights. The American people deserve better.

“But no matter what this administration throws at us, we know that if we speak loud enough, if we fight hard enough, we can bend the arc of history toward justice and equality for all,” he added.

The measure faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is unlikely Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will even bring it up for a vote.

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