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October 18, 2012

Category: Federal Advocacy, Laws and Legislation

HRC Scorecard of 112th Congress Shows Legislators Out of Touch on LGBT Equality

Analysis shows number of anti-LGBT legislators on the rise, small steps toward equality in the Senate

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign today released its Congressional Scorecard for the 112th Congress that rates members of Congress on their support for issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. An analysis of the data shows the LGBT community is making gains on Capitol Hill, but anti-LGBT legislators continue to hinder full equality.  The average score for House members was 40 percent and 35 percent for Senators, down significantly from the 111th Congress.

“While we continue to make advancements toward equality in Washington, the 112th Congress has more anti-equality members set on halting our progress,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Still, we continued pushing the envelope and made history with the first ever hearing and Senate Judiciary Committee approval of the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation repealing the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.  And for the second time, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act.”  

In the House, 115 members scored 100 percent, including 33 from states with marriage equality and eight from states facing marriage related ballot measure this November.  In the Senate, 22 scored 100 percent, including seven from states with marriage equality and five from ballot measure states.  The number of Senators with a zero percent score decreased from 32 last Congress to 14 this year, but disturbingly in the House, the number of zeroes dramatically increased from 144 to 219.

“LGBT equality was prominent in the 112th Congress, giving us great cause for optimism despite the fact that opponents of equality gained seats halting our progress,” added HRC Legislative Director Allison Herwitt.  “Yet while the American people move forward on these issues, the majority of Congress –particularly the House – continues to be out of touch.”

For the first time in this scorecard, HRC notes whether or not Members of Congress have taken an affirmative position in favor of marriage equality.  While marriage-related issues can arise in Congress, the baseline question about where a Senator or Representative stands on this issue is of great importance to all fair-minded Americans.

Votes and co-sponsorship of legislation scored in this Congress:

•           Senate vote on the Hutchison Amendment to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act striking key provisions prohibiting discrimination against, and expanding services to, victims of domestic violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as eliminating protections relating to Native American and immigrant victims.

•           Senate vote on President Obama’s nomination of J. Paul Oetken to serve as U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York, making him the first ever openly-gay male Article III judge in history. 

•           Senate vote on President Obama’s nomination of Alison J. Nathan to serve as U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York, making her the second openly-lesbian Article III judge in history. 

•           Co-sponsorship of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act that would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity;

•           Co-sponsorship of the Tax Parity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act  that would equalize the tax treatment of employer-provided health coverage for domestic partners and other non-spouse, non-dependent beneficiaries;

•           Co-sponsorship of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), to provide same-sex partners of U.S. citizens equal immigration access;

•           Co-sponsorship of the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act  that would provide spousal health-care, retirement, and other benefits to all federal civilian employees with qualifying same-sex domestic partners;

•           Co-sponsorship of the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure the federal government respects lawful marriages between same-sex couples;

•           Co-sponsorship of the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act (DPBO)  that would provide spousal health-care, retirement, and other benefits to all federal civilian employees with qualifying same-sex domestic            partners;

•           House vote on Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act that omits key provisions adopted in the Senate version prohibiting discrimination against, and expanding services to, victims of domestic violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as eliminating protections relating to Native American and immigrant victims.

•           House vote on Foxx amendment to the FY 2012 Department of Defense Appropriations bill, prohibiting the use of funds in the bill “in contravention of” the Defense of Marriage Act.

•           House vote on Huelskamp amendment to the FY 2012 Department of Defense Appropriations bill, prohibiting the use of funds in the bill for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal training materials developed for military chaplains.

•          House vote on Huelskamp amendment to the FY 2013 Commerce, Justice & Science Appropriations bill, prohibiting the use of funds in the bill “in contravention of” the Defense of Marriage Act.

•           House vote on King amendment to the FY 2013 Department of Defense Appropriations bill, prohibiting the use of funds in the bill “in contravention of” the Defense of Marriage Act.

The full scorecard and scores for individual Representatives and Senators can be viewed online at www.hrc.org/scorecard. A final scorecard will be released at the conclusion of the lame duck session following the election.

For each two year session of Congress since 1989, HRC has published a Congressional Scorecard that includes key Congressional votes and co-sponsorship of pro-LGBT legislation. It is a critical tool to assist fair-minded Americans in assessing the relative support or non-support of Members of Congress and to advocate for pro-equality legislation.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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