Only two Democrats in Congress have not signed on to support the newly re-introduced Equality Act: Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL).
Last week, Democrats brought forth the Equality Act for the third time.
This bill seeks to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected traits. If passed, it would prohibit discrimination in various areas, including employement, housing, public accommodation, and more on a national level.
Almost every Democrat, and some Republicans, support the legislation.
Manchin is the only Senate Democrat who will not vote to pass the bill, while Lipinski is the only Democrat in the House who hasn’t signed on as a co-sponsor.
‘I am not convinced’
Manchin released a statement about his stance on the Equality Act on his website.
‘I strongly support equality for all people and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. No one should be afraid of losing their job or losing their housing because of their sexual orientation,’ his statement began.
‘After speaking with local education officials in West Virginia, I am not convinced that the Equality Act as written provides sufficient guidance to the local officials who will be responsible for implementing it, particularly with respect to students transitioning between genders in public schools.
‘I will continue working with the sponsors of the bill to build broad bipartisan support and find a viable path forward for these critical protections so that I can vote in support of this bill.’
The conflict of religion
Lipinski said he supports the ‘goals’ of the legislation but could not co-sponsor it due to his stance on religious freedom.
‘I believe that LGBTQ people should be protected from discrimination and afforded equal treatment under law in public life,’ he said. ‘LGBTQ members are our neighbors, colleagues, friends a.nd peers, and their sexual orientation or identity should not lead them to be treated any less than others.’
He then qualified his support of LGBTI rights : ‘My faith is very important to me, and my belief in the Constitution’s protection of freedom of religion is fundamental to me.’
Known track records
Manchin is known for going against the Democratic majority.
He was one of only three Democrats who voted to confirm new Attorney General William Barr. Previously, he was the only Democrat to confirm Donald Trump’s original attorney general, Jeff Sessions.
Manchin also voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Lipinski, meanwhile, also has a more conservative record than most of his Democratic peers. He has a generally pro-life stance on abortion, and has voted against LGBTI legislation such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
The Human Rights Campaign also gave Lipinski a 40% on one of their congressional report cards.
Politico noted the House of Representative will likely hear the case for the Equality Act later this year. It remains unclear if Senate Republicans will push forward the bill.