Maloney presides over vote on bill to enshrine LGBT rights in federal law

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney gave an impassioned speech from the floor and then presided over a House vote on Friday on a bill that would fully establish LGBT rights in federal law and prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The House approved the Equality Act in a 236-173 vote, with eight Republicans breaking ranks to side with the Democratic majority. Before the vote, Maloney, a Cold Spring Democrat and co-chairman of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, had urged Republicans who supported the bill to vote their consciences and ignore the threat of negative scores by groups that oppose the legislation and track lawmakers’ votes for future campaigns.

“That’s how Washington scores,” Maloney told his colleagues. “But history scores differently. Conscience has its own rules. Decency sees something beyond such agendas. History records the good, conscience aligns with what is right, decency endures the unfair attacks and protects what truly matters. This is a good and simple bill of extraordinary historical importance.”

The bill would extend to LGBT persons the same anti-discrimination protections in employment, housing, education, public accommodations and other areas that are now granted for race, gender and other categories.

“Right now in 28 states, my family could be evicted from our home just because I’m gay,” Maloney said in a press release after the vote. “My husband, Randy, could be fired from his job because we’re married. It’s crazy – you step across a state line and suddenly you can be legally discriminated against just because of who you are or who you love.”

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