August 19, 2015 at 3:39 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Democrat backs anti-gay marriage amendment
Dan Lipinski, Democratic Party, Illinois, United States House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) supports a Federal Marriage Amendment against same-sex marriage. (Photo public domain)

Support for a U.S. constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage is often associated with former President George W. Bush’s 2004 State of the Union address or the policy platform of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. As it turns out, it’s also associated with a Democratic U.S. House member representing the suburbs of Chicago.

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) quietly campaigned for election last year to a sixth term representing Illinois’ 3rd congressional district in favor of a U.S. constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage nationwide, according to a questionnaire from the Illinois Family Institute obtained this week by the Washington Blade.

The two-page voting guide indicates the position of various candidates in the Illinois 3rd congressional district on issues important to social conservatives. Like his then-Republican opponent Sharon Brannigan, Lipinski indicated he supports H.J.Res 51.

The measure, introduced by Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), was a U.S. constitutional amendment pending before Congress and that would have restricted marriage to one man, one woman regardless of action by the federal judiciary.

Additionally, the questionnaire indicates Lipinski opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; supports a measure that would have prohibited the U.S. Justice Department from undermining the Defense of Marriage Act; and backs a controversial conscience clause in major defense spending legislation seen to enable anti-LGBT harassment of service members.

In terms of non-LGBT issues, the questionnaire also indicates Lipinski’s opposition to Obamacare and support for various measures that would restrict abortion rights.

Issac Sancken, a Lipinski spokesperson, didn’t immediately have a comment on whether the lawmaker still holds the views expressed in the questionnaire or would repudiate the document, but said the Washington Blade should proceed with the information if no response came from the office later in the day.

Lipinski’s support for a U.S. constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage likely makes him the only sitting Democrat in Congress to back such a measure. At the time, the amendment had two Democratic co-sponsors, but neither are still in Congress. Former Rep. Nick Rahill of West Virginia lost his seat to current Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) and former Rep. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina has retired.

The Illinois congressman, a Roman Catholic, has a history of anti-LGBT votes as a U.S. House member. During his first term in Congress, he voted “present” in 2006 when a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage came to the House floor. In the subsequent Congress after Democrats took control, Lipinski in 2007 voted against a version of ENDA on the House floor.

In the current Congress, Lipinski is the only Democratic co-sponsor of the First Amendment Defense Act, which seeks to “protect” opponents of same-sex marriage from government action, but is seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination. When an amendment came to the House floor seeking to prohibit spending on transportation or housing and urban development contractors without LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies, Lipinski was the only Democrat to vote “present.”

The most recent scorecard from the Human Rights Campaign gives Lipinski a score of 38 out of 100. He received points for backing increased funds for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS programs and the Safe Schools Improvement Act, but lost points for not co-sponsoring ENDA and opposing same-sex marriage.

Despite these actions, it should be noted in previous years Lipinski voted in favor of federal hate crimes protection legislation for LGBT people and in favor of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

Lipinski isn’t the only Democrat in Congress to oppose same-sex marriage, although those are few in number. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is among the opponents of gay nuptials and refused this year to sign a friend-of-the-court brief filed by congressional Democrats calling on the Supreme Court to overturn state prohibitions on same-sex marriage.

Still, Manchin said “we must respect and abide by the Supreme Court’s decision” on marriage after it was handed down and hasn’t expressed support for a U.S. constitutional amendment against it.

An official with the Democratic National Committee referred comment on Lipinski to the 2012 party platform, which asserts the party supports same-sex marriage and opposes amendments that would ban it throughout the country.

It remains to be seen whether Lipinski will face a primary challenge in 2016 over his anti-LGBT positions or other views he holds. Most recently, Lipinski has expressed skepticism about the Iran deal promoted by President Obama and has even charged Secretary of State John Kerry with being disrespectful to U.S. House members.

Lipinski’s district in the Chicago suburbs is relatively a Democratic stronghold and shouldn’t be considered a swing district. In 2012, Obama won the district over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney by 56-42, according to a report in Daily Kos. In 2008, Obama won even more handily over John McCain, 58-40.

David Stacy, HRC’s government affairs director, took Lipinski to task for his anti-LGBT positions and support for the First Amendment Defense Act.

“Dan Lipinski couldn’t be more out of step with his constituents and the American people at large,” Stacy said. “He is the only Democrat in Congress to sponsor the reckless and offensive so-called First Amendment Defense Act that encourages discrimination against LGBT people. At the same time, he refuses to join the majority of Americans who support marriage equality and LGBT non-discrimination protections. When will Lipinski join the 21st Century?”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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