Skip to Content

Two GOP lawmakers who supported the Equality Act in 2019 changed their votes this time

Two House Republicans who voted in 2019 to support the Equality Act flipped their votes Thursday and opposed the legislation, which intends to protect people from being discriminated based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Republican Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York and Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida were two of eight GOP lawmakers who joined House Democrats to vote for the Equality Act during the last session of Congress, when the legislation was first passed in the chamber.

Stefanik on Friday pointed to the June Supreme Court ruling that federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender individuals in the workplace, and said the ruling “serves as an important protection against discrimination.”

“I believe discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unlawful and wrong,” Stefanik said in a statement provided to CNN Friday. “While I voted for previous versions of this legislation before the Supreme Court ruling, I have long been concerned that this bill goes far beyond non-discrimination and eliminates the role of single gendered organizations and activities throughout our society.”

She argued that the Equality Act would effectively eliminate federal civil rights laws meant to ensure women and girls have the same opportunities as men and boys — “eliminating single-sex sports and social groups that are critical for personal development and growth.”

Diaz-Balart said Friday he supported it in the last Congress because he has “always fought against discrimination in all its forms” and that he had “outlined some severe flaws” with the legislation “that needed to be addressed to obtain bipartisan support.”

“House Democratic Leadership had ample time to make these changes, but sadly, they ignored multiple good faith efforts by my colleagues and instead doubled down on some of the most troubling issues, including sabotaging religious freedom,” he said in a statement Friday.

The Equality Act, Diaz-Balart argued, discriminates against “mosques, churches, and religious organizations for their deeply held religious beliefs.”

He added that if the House Democratic leadership wished to pass “real, meaningful legislation to fight discrimination,” they would have included bipartisan language offering “legitimate protections” for individuals, families, medical professionals, and religious groups.

In 2019, after voting in favor of the Equality Act, Diaz-Balart had issued a statement saying the bill is “flawed” and it has no chance of passing the Senate, but he added that he “cannot oppose a bill that seeks to prevent discrimination.”

Diaz-Balart and Stefanik both committed to reintroducing the “Fairness for All Act” with GOP Rep. Chris Stewart, a bill they said would protect both the LGBTQ community and religious groups from discrimination. They also slammed Democratic leaders in the House, accusing them of failing to work across the aisle and amend the legislation in a bipartisan fashion.

The Equality Act would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect people from being discriminated based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and other services as well as access to public accommodations such as restaurants.

Proponents for the bill argue that the legislation will help protect people in states where it’s legal to discriminate against people and that the law is long overdue, while opponents say the bill raises serious concerns for religious communities, would force women and girls to share private spaces with men, and result in men participating in women’s sports if they identify as female.

Unlike in 2019, Democrats control the Senate and White House, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer intends to bring the legislation to the floor this session.

The other six Republicans who supported the legislation in 2019 were GOP Reps. Susan Brooks of Indiana, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Will Hurd of Texas, John Katko of New York, Tom Reed of New York, and Greg Walden of Oregon.

Brooks, Hurd and Walden retired after their terms were up earlier this year. Katko, Reed, and Fitzpatrick were the only three Republicans who voted with Democrats on Thursday to pass the Equality Act.

This story has been updated with comment from Stefanik.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

CNN Newsource


KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content