House Approves Amendment Barring Justice Dept From Opposing DOMA
May 10th, 2012
The U.S. House of Representatives voted last night to add an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act to prohibit the Obama administration from taking any action that could be seen as violating the Defense of Marriage Act. Specifically, the amendment prohibits the Justice Department from spending any money to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act. Sixteen Democrats joined the Republican caucus in approving the measure in a 245-171 vote. Seven Republicans opposed the measure: Reps. Mary Bono Mack (CA), Richard Hanna (NY), Nan Hayworth (NY), Steven LaTourette (OH), Jerry Lewis (CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), and Rep. Lee Terry (NE).
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) said he introduced the amendment in response to Vice President Joe Biden’s expression of support for marriage equality on Sunday. “Stating his position is fine, Huelskamp said, “but you tie that together with the issues with the lawsuit in California in which, essentially, the attorney general walked away from DOMA and said, ‘I’m not going to defend that.'”
The amendment was also introduced after President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage.
The sixteen Democrats supporting the amendment were: John Barrow (GA), Sanford Bishop (GA), Dan Boren (OK), Ben Chandler (KY), Jerry Costello (IL), Mark Critz (PA), Henry Cuellar (TX), Tim Holden (PA), Larry Kissell (NC), Dan Lipinski (IL), Jim Matheson (UT), Mike McIntyre (NC), Collin Peterson (MN), Nick Rahall, (WV), Mike Ross (AR), and Heath Shuler (NC).
Federal domestic partnership benefits bill introduced
November 18th, 2011
About a week ago I had the opportunity to meet Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). She was in Los Angeles for an evening and made time to speak to Log Cabin Republicans about her ongoing support for civil equality in our nation’s capital, and a friend invited me to be his guest.
At that time she told the assembled crowd that she would be co-sponsoring a bill with Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to recognize the domestic partners of federal employees and offer benefits equivalent to those offered to spouses. Today that bill was introduced.
“I am pleased to co-sponsor this legislation because we are a nation that prides itself on treating everyone as equals and this bill assures that we bring those same ideals to the regulations that guide federal benefits for domestic partners of federal employees,” said Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen. “We have taken steps to gain equal rights for all but much remains to be done. Passage of this legislation will be one step in the right direction. I am pleased that the Senate has also introduced a similar bill,” she said.
The companion Senate bill is co-sponsored Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT).
(Susan Shelly, pictured with the Congresswoman, is running for Congress as a Republican in the 30th Congressional district as a social liberal and fiscal conservative.)
Effort to Repeal DOMA Picks Up Republican Support
September 23rd, 2011
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) has signed on as cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, a proposed bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. Ros-Lehtinen’s consponsorship now give the RMA bipartisan support:
“I voted against the constitutional amendment defining marriage [in 2006] so I’m pleased to cosponsor the repeal of DOMA and work with my colleagues on marriage equality,” said Ros-Lehtinen, who represents Florida’s 18th district, which includes South Beach, most sections of Miami, and the Florida Keys.
Though the south Florida representative has a long history of voting in favor of LGBT rights, her decision to join 124 House Democrats in cosponsoring the Respect for Marriage Act nevertheless is a bold move, given the Republican House leadership’s defense of DOMA in multiple legal challenges after the Obama administration announced in February it would no longer defend the law.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen is vice-chair of the House LGBT Equality Caucus, where she has been supportive of anti-discrimination measures, equal access to adoption and foster parenting, and changes to the tax code to level the playing field for employer-sponsored health care.
Cornyn and Sessions No-Shows at LCR Dinner, Receive Awards Anyway
September 22nd, 2010
A Republican gay-rights group presented Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) with a leadership award Wednesday night despite his vote against a repeal of the ban on allowing openly gay people to serve in the military nearly 24 hours before the event. …Neither Cornyn nor Sessions appeared in person to accept their awards.
Cornyn did appear and speak at a pre-dinner reception, which was attended by only 60 people and closed to the press. I don’t know whether he was given his trophy at that time when nobody from the press was there to see it, but we hear that all the gays sang a lovely round of “Happy Birthday” for Mrs Cornyn. That moment of festivity occurred just one day after Sen. Cornyn voted to continue to keep LGBT people from serving in the military. After about 45 minutes, he then ducked out without commenting to the press.
The leadership awards that LCR gave to Sessions and Cornyn are named for Barry Goldwater, who had no problem speaking his mind in support of gay rights. This action is a blight upon his good name, especially considering that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) was sitting right there at that very dinner. She was a founding member and remains the only Republican member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, where she serves as a vice-chair. She cosponsored the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act; she was the lead cosponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; she is a sponsor of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act; she actively supports repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and she voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment. Plus, she didn’t use the Republican Caucus meeting as an excuse to skip the dinner despite being the senior Republican woman in the caucus. She was honored with the Spirit of Lincoln Award, but if anyone deserves a leadership award named for Barry Goldwater, it’s her. Not the cowards who couldn’t be seen accepting it six weeks before the election.
Update: Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade caught up with Rep. Ros-Lehtinen after the LCR dinner:
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) told the Blade following her remarks at the National Log Cabin Republicans annual dinner in D.C. that she doesn’t know what will happen with pro-LGBT legislation as she took a dig at the current Democratic majority for not moving forward.
“I don’t know what will happen with Republicans,” she said. “I know what’s happening now. I don’t really get an opportunity to get to vote on those [bills] very often on the floor.”
Asked whether she thinks pro-LGBT legislation would advance in a Republican-controlled House, Ros-Lehtinen replied, “The Democrats are in control. I don’t know that they’ve gone forward. … I guess you should ask [U.S. House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi why they haven’t gone forward.”
Republicans are expected to gain control of the House in this year’s mid-term elections.
House Approves DADT Repeal
May 27th, 2010
Following an earlier vote in the Senate Armed Services Committee, the House of Representatives approved an amendment to the House’s version of the Defense Authorization Bill that paves the way toward the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The vote was 234-194. Five Republicans broke ranks to vote for the measure. They were Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), Charles Djou (HI), Judy Biggert (IL), Joseph Cao (LA), and Ron Paul (TX).
Update: Twenty-six Democrats voted against the amendment. They were Bobby Bright (AL), Marion Berry (AR), Mike Ross (AR), Sanford Bishop (GA), Daniel Lipinski (IL), Joe Donnelly (IN), Travis Childers (MS), Gene Taylor (MS), Ike Skelton (MO), Bob Etheridge (NC), Mike McIntyre (NC), Heath Shuler (NC), Earl Pomeroy (ND), Mark Critz (PA), John M. Spratt, Jr. (SC), Lincoln Davis (TN), John Tanner (TN), Chet Edwards (TX), Gene Green (TX), Solomon Ortiz (TX), Rick Boucher (VA), Nick Rahall (WV).