In Pennsylvania, the LGBTQ community doesn’t have a reliable friend in Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick.
The Human Rights Campaign released its Congressional Scorecard Friday measuring lawmakers’ support for LGBTQ+ equality in the 117th Congress and it gave Fitzpatrick a disappointing, but not surprising score of 68. He’s averaged a 67 in his time in office, scoring as low as 61.
On his website Fitzpatrick claims he has “ fought to make sure every American is treated equally and that their civil rights are protected.”
That’s just not true.
Here are a few of self-anointed “moderate” Fitzpatrick’s actions in this Congress that the HRC tracked.
Fitzpatrick refused to co-sponsor the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2021 (H.R. 4146) that seeks to ban the quackery known as “conversion therapy,” a barbaric practice that has used inhumane methods such as shock therapy in failed attempts to change a person’s identity and/or sexual orientation.
“Conversion therapy is a harmful, fraudulent practice based on prejudice and fake science. People should be free to express their gender identity or sexual orientation, and should never be pressured into thinking they need to ‘cure’ who they are,” said Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu in a statement when he introduced the bill in the House. “Conversion therapy inflicts immense harm on those subjected to it, and turns a profit for scammers posing as mental health professionals.”
“Moderate” and “bipartisan” Fitzpatrick also joined every other Republican in the House to not co-sponsor the Do No Harm Act (H.R. 1378). This bill wants to ensure that “religious freedom” isn’t misused to skirt federal civil rights protections and serve as an excuse to discriminate against the LGBTQ community.
“The Do No Harm Act will help protect everyone’s religious freedom while ensuring that no one can misuse it to harm others,” a statement by Americans United for Separation of Church and State points out. “Religious freedom is a shield that protects us all, not a sword to harm other people.”
At least that’s how it is supposed to work, though Fitzpatrick apparently doesn’t have a problem with this type of faith-based discrimination.
Another glaring example of Fitzpatrick’s disrgeard for the LGBTQ community is his no vote on the LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act (H.R. 4176). This bill would initiate the voluntary collection of demographic data to help the federal government identify and address issues your LGBTQ sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, may face now and in the future.
“The LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act is crucial for the overall quality of life for LGBTQI+ young people and adults. Without data that identifies the needs of our community, we remain invisible in the eyes of life-saving programs,” said Khouri Lassiter, YouthResource Activist, of Advocates for Youth. “Data not only highlights the inequities that queer and transgender youth experience but they open the door for more inclusive programs to be funded and the development of affirming policies, programs, and curricula to protect us from discrimination.”
There’s more, and readers should check out the HRC’s Scorecard themselves.
What’s clear, today, is that the LGBTQ community needs strong advocates in Congress, not fair weather friends.
“This term, LGBTQ+ rights have been under attack in state legislatures like never before, and new questions have arisen over whether the Supreme Court can be relied on to follow its own precedents in favor of LGBTQ+ equality,” said Human Rights Campaign Interim President Joni Madison. “In this reality, the pro-equality majorities in the House and Senate, alongside the Biden administration, have advanced an inclusive legislative agenda that stands as a bulwark against these severe anti-LGBTQ+ attacks.”
Fitzpatrick’s Republican colleagues from Pennsylvania fared even worse:
Rep. Dan Meuser 6, Rep. Scott Perry 8, Rep. Lloyd Smucker 0, Rep. Fred Keller 0, Rep. John Joyce 2, Rep. Guy Reschenthaler 0, Rep. Glenn Thompson 0, Rep. Mike Kelly 0.
In fact, 150 Republicans in the House and Senate scored 0. On the other hand, 167 Democratic representatives had a perfect score of 100. Here’s how Pennsylvania’s Democratic delegation performed:
Rep. Brendan Boyle 100, Rep. Dwight Evans 100, Rep. Madeleine Dean 100, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon 100, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan 98, Rep. Susan Wild 100, Rep. Matthew Cartwright 100, Rep. Connor Lamb 98, Rep. Mike Doyle 100.
Fitzpatrick’s Democratic challenger this election is Ashley Ehasz. At a time when anti-LGBTQ bigotry is a mushrooming and mainstream GOP movement rearing its ugly face in school board meetings, state legislatures, or even on the same Amtrak train you may be riding, voters need to ask themselves before casting their ballot what type of representation they want on LGBTQ issues.
People’s lives are at stake, and the choice couldn’t be any clearer.