Congress' ratings fall on LGBT issues

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HRC president Chad Griffin. - PHOTO: File

The Human Rights Campaign scorecard for the 112th Congress shows 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,” HRC president Chad Griffin stated. “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 in the House, the number of zeroes increased from 144 to 219.

For the first time, HRC noted whether or not members of Congress have taken an affirmative position in favor of marriage equality.

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

• Senate vote on the Hutchison Amendment to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act striking 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 Barack 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 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 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 that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure the federal government respects lawful marriages between same-sex couples.

• 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.

In Wisconsin…

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R, received a 15 percent, and Herb Kohl, D, received a 76 percent.

Republican U.S. Reps. Paul Ryan, James Sensenbrenner, Thomas Petri, Sean Duffy, Reid Ribble received zeros.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore received 100 percents.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Kind received a 95 percent.