Eight Massachusetts lawmakers on Thursday received an enthusiastic endorsement from the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights group, which touted the delegation’s efforts to support marriage equality and blunt what they described as the Trump administration’s “anti-LGBTQ agenda.”
The HRC called U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark, Bill Keating, Stephen Lynch, Jim McGovern, Seth Moulton, Richard Neal, Ayanna Pressley and Lori Trahan “champions of equality,” who are “among the top stand-out pro-equality members of Congress throughout their time in office,” according to a statement provided to MassLive.
The organization cited the lawmakers’ cosponsoring and vote for the Equality Act, which would guarantee “explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people under our nation’s existing civil rights laws.” The law passed in the Democratic-led House of Representatives in 2019 but has not moved in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The lawmakers, all Democrats, also voted to lift the Trump administration’s ban on transgender military service, support marriage equality and have long backed efforts to improve health care access and affordability for people living with HIV, the HRC said.
“Last year, the Human Rights Campaign was proud to stand alongside these champions of equality and pass the Equality Act for the first time. This year, we’re here to stand alongside them again as they seek reelection,” Alphonso David, president of the HRC, said in a statement. “We must ensure that we retain our pro-equality majority to pass the bill again through a pro-equality Senate and under a pro-equality President. Each of these members are crucial not just to ensuring the pro-equality majority, but to crafting and effectuating a truly effective legislative agenda to improve the lives of LGBTQ people in Massachusetts and across the country.”
The lawmakers said they were honored by the endorsement and pledged to continue fighting for LGBTQ rights.
Clark highlighted that LGBTQ Americans, particularly Black transgender women, “face an alarming rate of deadly violence and discrimination.”
“Yet rather than help them, (President Donald) Trump has done everything in his power to bully and erase our LGBTQ families, friends, and neighbors,” Clark added. “Lives are at stake, and I am proud to fight alongside the Human Rights Campaign to defeat Donald Trump in November, elect a pro-equality Congress and make equality the law of the land once and for all.”
The Trump administration has sought to roll back a number of Obama-era protections for LGBTQ Americans, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recent move to allow doctors to deny medical care to a transgender person.
The Department of Justice under Trump has argued that sex discrimination barred by the Civil Rights Act does not include discrimination against LGBTQ Americans in the workplace – a losing position in a sweeping, 6-3 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, in June, in which Trump appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that “an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”
“I’m deeply honored to have the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign, which is the biggest changemaker in this country when it comes to LGBTQ rights and equality,” Neal said. “At every turn during my time in Congress, I have been driven by a mission to level the playing field for people who need it the most, and it is this same spirit that is integral to the very founding mission of HRC. But on a personal level, and as very proud father of a gay son, I am grateful for their advocacy and dedication. I will always echo their mission and I am grateful for their support.”
Pressley said she was proud to earn the endorsement and remains “deeply committed to organizing, advocating and legislating alongside members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the continued fight against homophobia, transphobia, racism and institutionalized oppression.”
The HRC says it will expand its grassroots mobilization over the 2020 election season, with at least 45 full-time staff in seven key states, including Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.
Eight in 10 Americans now support civil rights protections for LGBTQ Americans, including majorities in varying age, political and ideological groups, a CBS News poll found earlier this year.
The New York Times reported last month that about three in five Americans support same-sex marriage, according to Pew Research Center. Support among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents has more than doubled since 2004, from 19% to 44%.