Metro Weekly

HRC releases congressional scorecard grading members on LGBTQ issues

A vast majority of GOP Senators and House members earned zero ratings, indicating no support for LGBTQ rights

U.S. Capitol Building – Photo: Raul654, via Wikimedia.

With only 20 days left before the 2018 midterm elections, the Human Rights Campaign has released its annual congressional scorecard rating members of the 115th Congress on their positions on LGBTQ issues.

Members of Congress were scored based on a range of positions they’ve taken on LGBTQ-related legislation, bills they’ve cosponsored, and, for members of the Senate, votes to confirm anti-LGBTQ Trump cabinet officials or judicial nominees.

“While Donald Trump and Mike Pence have spent the past two years unleashing relentless attacks on the LGBTQ community, the 115th Congress has done little to hold them accountable or pass LGBTQ equality, while doing a great deal to undermine the rights of the most vulnerable members of our community,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement.

“The HRC Congressional Scorecard serves as an important tool to understand where Members of Congress stand on LGBTQ equality,” he added. “As we face one of the most important elections of our lifetime, HRC’s Congressional Scorecard makes clear that it is crucial for fair-minded voters turn out in force to elect a pro-equality majority to Congress.”

In addition to LGBTQ-specific pieces of legislation such as the Equality Act, the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act to ban conversion therapy, and the Juror Non-Discrimination Act/Jury ACCESS Act, the scorecard also graded members of Congress on votes to provide Title X family planning grant funds to Planned Parenthood — due to the organization’s significant work providing transgender-competent health care — and attempts to repeal provisions in the Affordable Care Act from which many LGBTQ people benefit.

For the 115th Congress, 184 Democrats in the House and Senate received perfect 100 scores, but zero Republicans did.

While the average score for House Democrats increased in comparison to the 114th Congress, several conservative Democrats and a number of Republicans in both chambers, particularly in the Senate, saw their ratings take a hit this year.

The decrease in those ratings not only reflects the preponderance of anti-LGBTQ policies pursued by the administration and by Congress, but the growing political polarization in the country when it comes to social issues like LGBTQ equality.

The average score, on a scale of 0 to 100, for members of the House of Representatives was 47.6, and 48.7 for members of the Senate. The average score for Democratic representatives was 97.6, compared to an average score of 5.6 for Republican representatives. Similarly, in the Senate, Democrats earned an average score of 94.8 on the scorecard, while Republicans, on average, earned a 2.5.

The Northeast and West regions of the country continue to lead in the number of politicians who strongly support pro-LGBTQ policies, with representatives from the Northeast (regardless of party) earning an average score of 73.8 and senators from that region earning an average score of 89.9.

In the West, the average scores for representatives and senators were 66.0 and 53.1, respectively.

HRC has gotten heavily involved in the midterm elections through its HRC Rising Campaign, which seeks to elect pro-LGBTQ individuals to various federal, state, and local offices in key states or House districts.

The organization is hopeful that the scorecard can be used as a tool to help educate approximately 52 million so-called “Equality Voters” — those who would be influenced by a candidate’s position on various LGBTQ issues — in making good decisions when they cast their ballots on Nov. 6.

In the House, 190 of 235 Republicans earned zero ratings. The highest-scoring Republicans included the retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, with 76, followed by Pennsylvania’s Brian Fitzpatrick, Colorado’s Mike Coffman, and New York’s John Katko with a score of 61. New Jersey’s Leonard Lance, New York’s John Faso, and the retiring Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania earned scores of 58, with retiring Washington Rep. Dave Reichert earning a 55, and Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida earning a 54.

The five lowest-performing House Democrats were: North Carolina’s G.K. Butterfield and Georgia’s Sanford Bishop, who earned scores of 82; Missouri’s Emanuel Cleaver, with a score of 76; Minnesota’s Collin Peterson, who scored 67; and Illinois’ Dan Lipinski, who earned a score of 58.

Among sitting senators, 28 of 47 Democrats earned ratings of 100. The lowest-performing Senate Democrats were: Montana’s Jon Tester and New Mexico’s Tom Udall, who earned scores of 88; Alabama’s Doug Jones, with an 84; North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, with an 82, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, with a 72; and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who earned a score of 30, and was the only Democrat to vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Independents Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine earned scores of 100 and 88, respectively.

Forty-six of 51 GOP senators earned zero ratings on the scorecard. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was the highest-ranked Republican with a score of 54, followed by Maine’s Susan Collins with a score of 33, and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, Colorado’s Cory Gardner, and Arizona’s Jeff Flake earned scores of 12.

For House members seeking promotions to the Senate this year, Democrats Jacky Rosen of Nevada and Beto O’Rourke of Texas earned 100; Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema earned a 94; and Republicans Martha McSally of Arizona, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Jim Renacci of Ohio, and Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania earned zeros.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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