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HRC scorecard shows drop in support for LGBT rights in Congress

Support for same-sex marriage measured for first time

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HRC’s troubling statistics show Congress is less supportive of LGBT issues than in 2010. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Support for LGBT equality declined significantly in Congress during the past two years compared to the previous two-year period, according to a Congressional Scorecard for the 112th Congress released on Thursday by the Human Rights Campaign.

The scorecard, which HRC has compiled for each two-year session of Congress since 1989, shows that the average score for members of the House of Representatives on LGBT issues dropped from 50.8 percent in the 111th Congress to 40 percent in the current Congress.

For the Senate, the HRC Scorecard shows a drop in support from 57.3 percent in the 111th Congress to 35 percent in the current 112th Congress.

“While we continue to make advancements towards 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,” Griffin said.

The HRC Scorecard evaluates all 435 House members and 100 senators based on a rating scale of 0 to 100 on a wide range of LGBT issues, including members’ co-sponsorship of pro-LGBT bills and their votes on bills or amendments deemed LGBT supportive or hostile to LGBT rights.

Similar to its Scorecard ratings of past years, the latest HRC Scorecard shows a breakdown of its ratings along party lines, with a majority of Democrats receiving the highest scores and most Republicans receiving low scores.

In the House, 115 members– all Democrats — received a perfect score of 100. Of the House members that received a “0” score, 211 are Republicans and four are Democrats.

In the Senate, 22 members received a 100 percent score – all Democrats. Of the Senators receiving a “0” score, 14 are Republicans and none are Democrats.

In a statement released Thursday, HRC said the Scorecard for the 112th Congress for the first time asked members of Congress whether they support the legal recognition of civil marriage for same-sex couples.

According to the Scorecard, 144 House members and 26 senators said they support civil marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Of the House members expressing support for marriage equality, 143 are Democrats. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) was the only Republican House member to express support for same-sex marriage equality.

Of the 26 senators stating they support same-sex marriage equality, all are Democrats.

“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,” HRC said in its statement accompanying the Scorecard.

However, HRC spokesperson Paul Guequierre told the Washington Blade that the answers lawmakers gave to the question on whether they support legalizing same-sex civil marriage was not included in the calculation of the scores assigned to House and Senate members.

Among House members representing D.C. area districts, Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) received a score of 100.

Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen, all Democrats from Maryland, each received a 100 rating and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) received a 95 rating. Maryland Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin, both Democrats, each received a 100 rating.

In Virginia, Democratic U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb each received a 76 rating. Among Virginia’s D.C. area House members, Democrats Jim Moran and Gerald Connolly received a 100. Republican Frank Wolf received a rating of 15.

“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,” said Allison Herwitt, HRC’s legislative director. “Yet while the American people move forward on these issues, the majority of Congress – particularly the House –continues to be out of touch.”

Among the legislation and votes HRC used to rate Senators and House members on its Congressional Scorecard were the following:

  • The Senate votes to confirm openly gay U.S. District Court judge nominee J. Paul Oetken and lesbian U.S. District Court judge nominee Alison Nathan.
  • Co-sponsorship of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would ban private sector employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Co-sponsorship of the Respect for Marriage Act, which calls for repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA that bans federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
  • Co-sponsorship of the Uniting American Families Act, which would provide equal immigration rights to foreign born same-sex partners of American citizens.
  • Co-sponsorship of the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligation Act, which would provide spousal health care and other benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.
  • Senate vote on the Hutchinson Amendment to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which eliminated provisions from the bill that would have given domestic violence related protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
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Virginia

Va. Senate committee kills six anti-transgender bills

Democrats control chamber by 22-18 margin

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia Senate Education Committee on Thursday killed six anti-transgender bills.

The committee rejected state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 960, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Colonial Heights)’s Senate Bill 791 and state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania County)’s Senate Bill 1203. All three measures would have banned transition-related health care for minors in Virginia.

The committee also killed state Sen. John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake)’s Senate Bill 911, Reeves’ Senate Bill 1186 and Peake’s Senate Bill 962. The measures would have banned transgender athletes from school teams corresponding with their gender identity.

Equality Virginia in a tweet said committee members received more than 3,000 emails “in opposition” to the bills. The statewide advocacy group further noted 10 out of 12 anti-trans bills introduced during this year’s legislative session have been defeated.

“Thank you to everyone who has spoken up against these bills,” said Equality Virginia. “Virginia is remaining a better, more inclusive state because of your efforts.”

“The fight isn’t over,” added the advocacy group. “But we know Virginians will show up for trans youth, day after day.”

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Virginia

Va. Senate subcommittee essentially kills three anti-transgender bills

Measures would ban transition-related health care for minors

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia Senate subcommittee on Tuesday essentially killed three bills that would have banned transition-related health care for minors in the state.

Equality Virginia in a tweet noted the Senate Health Subcommittee “recommended killing” state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 960, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Colonial Heights)’s Senate Bill 791 and state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania County)’s Senate Bill 1203. 

“We expect these bills to be officially dead after the full committee meets on Thursday,” said Equality Virginia.

Democrats have a 22-18 majority in the state Senate, and they have said they will block any anti-LGBTQ bill that reaches their chamber. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who is the first openly transgender woman seated in a state legislature in the U.S., on Tuesday reiterated this point.

“With the defeat of these bills in the Senate, our (Virginia Senate Democrats) made it clear that *any* bills in the House targeting trans kids during the final week before crossover will not become law if they make it to the Senate,” she tweeted. “Let’s focus on feeding kids, not singling them out.”

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The White House

Doug Emhoff visits monument to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin

Second gentleman marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Auschwitz

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The Memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism in Berlin on July 23, 2022. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff visited the memorial on Jan. 31, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff on Tuesday visited a monument to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin.

A readout from Emhoff’s office notes he visited the Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals under National Socialism with Philipp Braun of the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany, a German LGBTQ and intersex rights group. Christopher Schreiber and Alexander Scheld of the Berlin-Brandenburg Lesbian and Gay Federation were also with Emhoff.

“The Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals under Nazi Socialism is intended to honor the homosexual victims of National Socialism and at the same time ‘set a constant sign against intolerance, hostility and exclusion towards gays and lesbians,'” notes the readout.

Emhoff on Tuesday visited other memorials that honor the Sinti and Roma and people with disabilities who the Nazis killed. The second gentleman also visited Berlin’s Holocaust memorial before he met with five people who survived it.

The second gentleman earlier in the day participated in a roundtable with Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders and met with Ukrainian refugees at Berlin’s New Synagogue. Emhoff on Monday participated in a meeting at the city’s Topography of Terror Museum that focused on antisemitism.

International Holocaust Memorial Day, which commemorates the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland in 1945, took place on Jan. 27. 

Emhoff, who is Jewish, traveled to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Memorial and Museum and participated in ceremonies that commemorated the camp’s liberation. He later attended a Shabbat dinner with members of the Jewish community in Krakow, visited Oscar Schindler’s factory and met with Ukrainian refugees at a U.N. Refugee Agency community center before he traveled to Germany.

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