Even though Republicans have the greatest majority in the U.S. House in nearly 100 years, the chamber passed late Tuesday a pro-LGBT amendment to enshrine into law a prohibition on spending on housing and urban development contractors without LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination polices.
The amendment, introduced by Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), forbids the use of funds in contravention of Executive Order 11246, which, as President Obama amended last year, prohibits federal contractors from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin.
“No American should be fired or denied a job or place to live for being who they are or because of who they love,” Peters said in a statement. “My amendment would demonstrate that Congress is willing to lead on equality and fairness as we work toward full non-discrimination provisions for LGBT individuals.”
The amendment was passed by a 241-184 vote as part of the fiscal year 2016 transportation, housing and urban development appropriations bill, which is also known as H.R. 2577. Joining Democrats in passing the bill were 60 Republicans. Not a single Democrat voted “no”; all 184 votes in opposition from came from Republicans.
In a statement after the vote, U.S. House John Boehner touted the legislation as a means to improve the nation’s infrastructure, but also said the legislation “ensures access to housing for some of the most vulnerable amongst us, including families, the elderly, and those with disabilities.”
Each of the House Republicans who are on record in support of same-sex marriage — Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), David Jolly (R-Fla.), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Robert Dold (R-Ill.) and Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) — voted in favor of the amendment.
Also voting for the amendment were the openly LGBT members of Congress — Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.).
Voting “present” on the amendment was Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), a Democrat who opposes same-sex marriage and hasn’t supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
The bill is unlikely to become law. The White House has issued a veto threat over the spending bill on the basis that it freezes or cuts critical investment in transportation that creates jobs and reduces funding for other vulnerable populations.
According to the Associated Press, the legislation would cut $242 million from Amtrak’s budget shortly after a fatal train wreck that killed eight people and injured 400.
It’s not the first time the House under Boehner has passed an LGBT-inclusive measure. In 2013, the chamber passed a version of reauthorization for Violence Against Women Act reauthorization that includes explicit non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The vote also gives credence to supporters of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2013 — including Polis, the White House and the Human Rights Campaign — who said the measure would pass on the House floor if only Republican leadership would allow a vote on the bill.