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UPDATED: Grading the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus in the 112th Congress

In order to achieve full federal equality, we need an important institution such as the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus to actually be efficient and turnkey in our efforts to demonstrate and increase the support for all pieces of LGBT friendly legislation.  I am hopeful that the Equality Caucus leadership either: 1. Encourages all of its members to support and cosponsor ALL LGBT-friendly legislation introduced by its membership and other allies in Congress or 2. Explains to the larger LGBT community why the Equality Caucus isn’t supporting specific pieces of legislation.bw_teacher_pupil_blackboard-300x204

According to their website (http://lgbt.tammybaldwin.house.gov/): The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus was established in the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2008 by Co-Chairs Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Barney Frank (D-MA), along with Members of Congress who are strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the U.S. and around the world.”

The Caucus is now co-chaired by four openly gay members of Congress:  Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barney Frank (D-MA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and David Cicilline (D-RI).  In addition to the Co-Chairs, the membership is comprised of 19 Vice-Chairs and 73 Members, which totals to 96 members (Current website doesn’t reflect the resignation of Jane Harman (D-CA).

It is commonly understood amongst LGBT advocacy organizations and activists, that with the recent loss of Democrats in the House of Representatives during the 2012 election, the 112th Congress might be a challenging field to secure passage of any LGBT legislation. Given the current political environment, one would expect that the Equality Caucus formed with the mission to achieve equal rights for LGBT people would immediately and unequivocally support ALL pieces of LGBT friendly legislation introduced in this Congress.

However that isn’t what is happening.  As the chart below describes, only one member of the LGBT Equality Caucus (Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)) is sponsoring all 10 pieces of legislation receiving a score of 100% or an A, 3 members are sponsoring 9 pieces of legislation receiving a score of 90% or B, 17 members are sponsoring 8 pieces of legislation receiving a score of 80% or C, 20 members are sponsoring 7 pieces of legislation receiving a score of 70% or D, and 54 members are sponsoring 6 or less pieces of legislation receiving a score of 60% or below or F.

Equality Caucus Score June 2011

Act on Principles is giving the following grades collectively to the Equality Caucus based on its percentage support of LGBT friendly legislation introduced in the House of Representatives. Currently, there are nine pieces of legislation in the House that impact LGBT equality. Shockingly, the Equality Caucus receives a mediocre report card consisting of two A’s, two B’s and six F’s.

H.R.998: Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2011

Sponsor: Rep Polis, Jared [CO-2] (introduced 3/10/2011)

95% = A

H.R.1397: Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Sponsor: Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] (introduced 4/6/2011)

93% = A

H.R.1116: Respect for Marriage Act

Sponsor: Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] (introduced 3/16/2011)

84% = B

H.R.1537: Uniting American Families Act of 2011

Sponsor: Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] (introduced 4/14/2011)

83% = B

H.R.1648: Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2011

Sponsor: Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] (introduced 4/15/2011)

59% = F

H.R.1488: Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act of 2011

Sponsor: Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2] (introduced 4/12/2011)

53% = F

H.R.1681: Every Child Deserves a Family Act

Sponsor: Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] (introduced 5/3/2011)

51% = F

H.R.1028: Equal Access to COBRA Act of 2011

Sponsor: Rep Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9] (introduced 3/10/2011)

48% = F

H.R.1048: Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2011

Sponsor: Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] (introduced 3/11/2011)

8% = F

H.R.2088: Tax Parity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act of 2011

Sponsor: Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] (introduced 6/2/2011)

2% = F

Before going into too much details on each of the bills, only Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus supports ALL TEN pieces of LGBT legislation introduced should be commended. And only three members support NINE OUT OF TEN.  Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and these other Members of Congress received a 100% score and 90% score on their co-sponsorship efforts, unfortunately they account for only 4% of the entire Equality Caucus (4 out of 96 members):

  • Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) – Caucus Member at 100% Sponsorship
  • Judy Chu (D-CA) – Caucus Member at 90% Sponsorship
  • Michael Honda (D-CA) – Caucus Vice-Chair at 90% Sponsorship
  • Steven Rothman (D-NJ) – Caucus Member at 90% Sponsorship

Conversely, the ten members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus that are supporting only one or two pieces of legislation should be also noted. These Members of Congress receive a 10% to 20% score on their co-sponsorship efforts.  (We do not want to penalize the Equality Caucus or Equality Caucus Member Gabrielle Giffords due to her circumstances and medical condition that keeps her from participating in her Congressional activities. Her co-sponsorships will not be counted in the tabulations).   Those with only one or two co-sponsorships of any pro-LGBT legislation account for 5% of the Equality Caucus (5 out 95).

  • Xavier Becerra (D-CA) – Caucus Vice-Chair at 20% Sponsorship
  • Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) – Caucus Member at 20% Sponsorship
  • Hanson Clark (D-MI) – Caucus Member at 10% Sponsorship
  • Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) – Caucus Member at 10% Sponsorship
  • Frederica Wilson (D-FL) – Caucus Member at 10% Sponsorship

With a grade of an A, 95% (90 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R.998: Sponsor: Rep Polis, Jared [CO-2] (introduced 3/10/2011)).  Those Equality Caucus members not co-sponsoring the Student Non-Discrimination Act include the following five members:

  • Robert Andrews (D-NJ) – Caucus Vice-Chair at 30% Sponsorship
  • Xavier Becerra (D-CA) – Caucus Vice-Chair at 20% Sponsorship
  • John Conyers (D-MI) – Caucus Member at 30% Sponsorship
  • George Miller (D-CA– Caucus Member at 40% Sponsorship
  • Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) – Caucus Member at 10% Sponsorship

With a grade of an A, 93% (88 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R.1397: Sponsor: Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] (introduced 4/6/2011).  Those Equality Caucus members not co-sponsoring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act include the following seven members:

  • Timothy Bishop (D-NY) – Caucus Member at 30% Sponsorship
  • Hansen Clarke (D-MI) – Caucus Member at 10% Sponsorship
  • Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) – Caucus Member at 50% Sponsorship
  • Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP) *Non-voting Caucus Member from the Northern Mariana Islands at 40% Sponsorship
  • Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) – Caucus Member at 30% Sponsorship
  • Nydia Velazquez (D- NY) – Caucus Member at 10% Sponsorship
  • Frederica Wilson (D-FL) – Caucus Member at 10% Sponsorship

With a grade of a B, only 84% (80 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R.1116: Sponsor: Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] (introduced 3/16/2011)).  Those Equality Caucus members not co-sponsoring the Respect for Marriage Act include the following fifteen members:

  • Robert Andrews (D-NJ) – Caucus Vice-Chair at 30% Sponsorship
  • Xavier Becerra (D-CA) – Caucus Vice-Chair at 20% Sponsorship
  • Timothy Bishop (D-NY) – Caucus Member at 30% Sponsorship
  • Andre Carson (D-IN) – Caucus Member at 40% Sponsorship
  • Hansen Clarke (D-MI) – Caucus Member at 10% Sponsorship
  • Peter DeFazio (D-OR) – Caucus Member at 30% Sponsorship
  • Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) – Caucus Member at 20% Sponsorship
  • Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) – Caucus Member at 30% Sponsorship
  • Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) – Caucus Member at 40% Sponsorship
  • Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) – Caucus Member at 50% Sponsorship
  • Laura Richardson (D-CA) – Caucus Member at 70% Sponsorship
  • Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) – Caucus Vice-Chair at 30% Sponsorship
  • Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP) *Non-voting Caucus Member from the Northern Mariana Islands at 40% Sponsorship
  • Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) – Caucus Member at 30% Sponsorship
  • Frederica Wilson (D-FL) – Caucus Member at 10% Sponsorship

With a grade of a B, only 84% (80 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Uniting American Families Act (H.R.1537: Sponsor: Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] (introduced 4/14/2011)).  Those Equality Caucus members not co-sponsoring the Uniting American Families Act include the following fifteen members:

  • Robert Andrews (D -NJ) – Caucus Vice-Chair at 30% Sponsorship
  • Hansen Clarke (D-MI) – Caucus Member at 10% Sponsorship
  • Marcia Fudge (D -OH) – Caucus Member at 30% Sponsorship
  • Charles Gonzalez (D -TX) – Caucus Member at 20% Sponsorship
  • Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) – Caucus Member at 30% Sponsorship
  • Brian Higgins (D -NY) – Caucus Member at 40% Sponsorship
  • Eddie Bernice Johnson (D -TX) – Caucus Member at 40% Sponsorship
  • Bill Keating (D-MA) – Caucus Member at 30% Sponsorship
  • David Loebsack (D -IA) – Caucus Member at 30% Sponsorship
  • Christopher Murphy (D -CT) – Caucus Member at 30% Sponsorship
  • Gary Peters (D -MI) – Caucus Member at 40% Sponsorship
  • Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R -FL) – Caucus Vice-Chair at 30% Sponsorship
  • Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP) *Non-voting Caucus Member from the Northern Mariana Islands at 40% Sponsorship
  • Loretta Sanchez (D -CA) – Caucus Member at 30% Sponsorship
  • Nydia Velazquez (D -NY) – Caucus Member at 10% Sponsorship
  • Frederica Wilson (D-FL) – Caucus Member at 10% Sponsorship

With a grade of an F, 59% (56 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Safe Schools Improvement Act (H.R.1648: Sponsor: Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] (introduced 4/15/2011)).  Rather than list all those Equality Caucus members not cosponsoring the Safe Schools Improvement Act let’s look at some other details.  All of the Equality Caucus Co-Chairs, except for Barney Frank (D-MA) are cosponsors of the bill. However, only 63% (12 of 19) of the Vice-Chairs of the Caucus are cosponsors of the bill.  This is a priority piece of legislation for the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) (http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/news/record/2702.html), as it “would require schools to implement comprehensive anti-bullying policies that address bullying and harassment and ensure the safety and well-being of all their students.”

With a grade of an F, 48% (46 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Equal Access to COBRA Act (H.R.1028: Sponsor: Rep Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9] (introduced 3/10/2011).  Rather than list all those Equality Caucus members not cosponsoring the Equal Access to COBRA Act let’s look at some other details.  All of the Equality Caucus Co-Chairs (Baldwin, Cicilline, Frank, and Polis) are cosponsors of the bill.  However, only 42% (8 of 19) of the Vice-Chairs of the Caucus are cosponsors of the bill.

With a grade of an F, 53% (50 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act (H.R.1488: Sponsor: Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2] (introduced 4/12/2011)).  Rather than list all those Equality Caucus members not cosponsoring the Freedom from Discrimination Act, let’s look at some other details. All of the Equality Caucus Co-Chairs, except for David Cicilline (D-RI) are cosponsors of the bill.  However, only 63% (12 of 19) of the Vice-Chairs of the Caucus are cosponsors of the bill.

With a grade of an F, 51% (48 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (H.R.1681: Sponsor: Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] (introduced 5/3/2011)).  Rather than list all those Equality Caucus members not cosponsoring the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, let’s look at some other details.  All of the Equality Caucus Co-Chairs are cosponsors of the bill.  However, only 69% (13 of 19) of the Vice-Chairs of the Caucus are cosponsors of the bill.  This is a priority bill for the Family Equality Council (http://www.familyequality.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ECDF) as it will “eliminate (sic) state laws, policies, practices and procedures that exclude potential adoptive and foster parents because of their marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

With a grade of F-, 8% (8 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act (H.R.1048: Sponsor: Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] (introduced 3/11/2011)). None of the Equality Caucus Co-Chairs (Baldwin, Cicilline, Frank or Polis) are cosponsors and only 11% (2 of 19) of the Vice-Chairs of the Caucus are cosponsors of the bill.

With a grade of F-, 2% (2 of 95 members) of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is supporting the Tax Parity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act of 2011(H.R.2088: Sponsor: Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] (introduced 6/2/2011)). The bill sponsored by Democrat Jim McDermott from Washington State is the least supported piece of legislation in the Equality Caucus with only 2 co-sponsors from the Caucus. None of the Equality Caucus Co-Chairs (Baldwin, Cicilline, Frank or Polis) or Caucus Vice-Chairs are cosponsors of the bill.

Act On Principles (www.actonprinciples.org) will continue publicly whip all LGBT supportive legislation in the 112th Congress, continue to evaluate the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus on their support of our equality, and work with organizations to ensure we achieve full federal equality.


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