Zero Republican lawmakers and 155 Democrats have joined the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.
The caucus, which advocates for LGBT+ rights within Congress, relaunched for the 116th Congress on Monday (March 11), following the 2018 midterm elections in November.
The group will be co-chaired by all eight of the out LGB lawmakers who now sit in the House of Representatives: Democratic Reps. David Cicilline, Angie Craig, Sharice Davids, Katie Hill, Sean Patrick Maloney, Chris Pappas, Mark Pocan and Mark Takano.
For the first time, a majority of all House Democrats have joined the group, with 18 vice chairs and 129 general members signing on to jointly work towards LGBT+ equality.
Congressional LGBT Caucus has no Republican members
However, there are now zero Republicans involved in the group.
In the previous session of Congress, the group had two Republican members, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo, who attempted to forge bipartisan support for LGBT+ rights laws.
Ros-Lehtinen retired at the 2018 election, while Curbelo was defeated by his Democratic challenger.
However, co-chair Sharice Davids says that with more members than ever before, the caucus has “a unique opportunity to enact real change on LGBT issues and further expand and protect the rights of the LGBT community in the US and around the world.”
Angie Craig added: “[We have] work left to do to end discrimination that still exists in housing and employment, and in particular stand with the transgender community.
“We now have the largest membership in our caucus history, and we will continue to work until every LGBTQ American has the rights and respect they deserve.”
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Congressional LGBT Caucus will push for anti-discrimination protections
The caucus co-chairs will this week reintroduce the Equality Act, which would add federal discrimination protections for LGBT+ people by extending existing civil rights laws to cover discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
David Cicilline said: “Fairness and equality are core American values. Unfortunately, as he has shown again and again, the President does not share these ideals.
“That’s why it’s more important than ever that Members of Congress stand up for the rights of the LGBT community.
“As I prepare to re-introduce the Equality Act, I am delighted that so many of my House colleagues – the largest number on record, in fact – are committed to fighting for full LGBT equality as members of this important caucus.”
Co-Chair Rep. Katie Hill said: “It’s not a coincidence that the 116th Congress is the youngest and most diverse in history – it’s a call to action.”
She added: “Now more than ever our communities are demanding representation to ensure their voices are heard.
“As the first openly bisexual woman elected to Congress from the state of California, I am proud to further the fight to end discrimination and uplift our community.”
The Equality Act faces a rough ride in the Senate, however, where Republicans who have held up the bill’s passage for years continue to hold a majority.
It is currently legal to discriminate against LGBT+ people in 30 US states due to inadequate state-level protections, and efforts to pass US-wide LGBT+ civil rights laws have been stalled in Congress for decades.