The Human Rights Campaign released its Congressional Scorecard for the 111th Congress that rates members of Congress on their support for issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. An analysis of the data demonstrates a stark polarization with increases in both highly supportive and highly anti-LGBT legislators. The average score for House members was 50.8 percent and 57.3 percent for Senators.
“While advancements for equality were made this Congress, a strong and devoted group of anti-LGBT legislators continues to stymie the progress LGBT people deserve,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “The fact that the first ever vote to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the House of Representatives was countered by a filibuster in the Senate illustrates the landscape.”
In the House, 145 members scored 90 percent or above, compared to 128 members last congress. In the Senate, those scoring 90 percent and above rose from 32 to 36. But disturbingly, the number of Senators with a zero percent score doubled from 16 to 32 this Congress. In addition, the number of House Members that consistently oppose LGBT equality has remained essentially constant increasing from 143 to 144.
“As more and more Americans support equality for LGBT people, some members of Congress are showing real leadership while others are digging in their heels to cater to an anti-LGBT fringe constituency,” added HRC Legislative Director Allison Herwitt.
Votes and co-sponsorship of legislation scored in this Congress:
- The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to allow local law enforcement to access federal resources to investigate or prosecute violent crimes committed because of the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity (the House votes for final passage and the motion to recommit were scored as was the Senate vote on Sen. Leahy’s hate crimes amendment);
- Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” to allow lesbians and gays to serve openly and honestly in the Armed Forces (the full House vote on Rep. Murphy’s DADT repeal amendment was scored as was the Senate vote to proceed to debate on the Defense bill to which DADT repeal is attached);
- Co-sponsorship of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), to prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity;
- Co-sponsorship of the Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act (DP Tax), to equalize tax treatment for employer-provided health coverage for domestic partners;
- Co-sponsorship of the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA);
- Co-sponsorship of the Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA), to allow states to provide Medicaid coverage to HIV-positive persons;
- Co-sponsorship of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), to provide same-sex partners of U.S. citizens equal immigration access;
- House vote on Rep. Mark Souder’s amendment that would have prohibited funding for any program which distributes sterile needles or syringes for the hypodermic injection of any illegal drug;
- Senate vote on Sen. Robert Bennett’s amendment to suspend the issuance of marriage licenses to same sex couples in the District of Columbia and require a referendum;
- Senate votes on the nominations of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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.
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