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How Florida members of Congress voted on historic LGBTQ protection bill

Democrats blast Rep. Ross Spano for quoting Coretta Scott King to explain vote against bill
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, flanked by Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., left, and Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., speaks to advocates for LGBTQ rights as they rally before a vote in the House on the "Equality Act of 2019," sweeping anti-discrimination legislation that would extend civil rights protections to LGBT people by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, May 17, 2019. Cicilline is the chief sponsor of the bill to protect LGBTQ rights. [AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite]
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, flanked by Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., left, and Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., speaks to advocates for LGBTQ rights as they rally before a vote in the House on the "Equality Act of 2019," sweeping anti-discrimination legislation that would extend civil rights protections to LGBT people by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, May 17, 2019. Cicilline is the chief sponsor of the bill to protect LGBTQ rights. [AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite]
Published May 17, 2019|Updated May 17, 2019

For the first time, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed sweeping new rights for LGBTQ people that would protect them from discrimination in public places, at work and in housing.

The Equality Act passed Friday afternoon with 236 Representatives voting for and 173 — all Republicans — voting against it. Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami was one of seven Republicans to break ranks and vote for the bill.

Rep. Kathy Castor, a co-sponsor of the bill, said after the vote: "No one should be discriminated against – period – and especially based upon who they love.”

While civil rights laws protect people from discrimination based on race, religion, sex and disability, there is a gap in the law for LGBTQ people. The Equality Act aims to close that gap.

The bill also prevents anyone from denying access to a bathroom, locker room or dressing room that matches their gender identity. It’s a direct response to so-called “bathroom bills” that require people to use restrooms of their assigned gender at birth.

It’s the first time a chamber of Congress has voted on a such a measure. The Republican-controlled Senate, however, is unlikely to take up the bill and President Donald Trump said he is opposed.

In explaining his opposition Thursday, Rep. Ross Spano, R-Dover, quoted civil rights icon Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Coretta Scott King wisely said, ‘Freedom is never really won. We earn it and win it in every new generation,’ Spano said Friday. “H.R. 5 is bad for freedom. It would immediately expose churches, religious schools and universities and faith-based organizations to legal liability for simply following their earnest beliefs.”

Those remarks drew widespread condemnation from LGBTQ activists and Democrats, who noted that King was a strong advocate for gay rights. Avery Jaffe, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called Spano a “disgrace” for his remarks.

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Florida is one of 30 states that does not include protections for LGBTQ individuals, meaning someone here could be fired by an employer due to their sexual orientation.

“The Equality Act would provide the LGBTQ community with the same protections afforded to every other American and it’s time this bill became law,” Equality Florida Senior Political Director Joe Saunders said in a statement.

Here’s how Florida’s 27 members of the House of Representatives voted on the bill:

NamePartyDistrict-HometownVote
Matt GaetzR1-Fort Walton BeachNo
Neal DunnR2-Panama CityNo
Ted YohoR3-GainesvilleNo
John RutherfordR4-JacksonvilleNo
Al LawsonD5-TallahasseeYes
Michael WaltzR6-St. AugustineNo
Stephanie MurphyD7-Winter ParkYes
Bill PoseyR8-RockledgeNo
Darren SotoD9-OrlandoYes
Val DemingsD10-OrlandoYes
Daniel WebsterR11-ClermontNo
Gus BilirakisR12-Palm HarborNo
Charlie CristD13-St. PetersburgYes
Kathy CastorD14-TampaYes
Ross SpanoR15-DoverNo
Vern BuchananR16-SarasotaNo
Greg SteubeR17-SarasotaNot voting
Brian MastR18-Palm CityNo
Francis RooneyR19-NaplesNo
Alcee HastingsD20-MiramarYes
Lois FrankelD21-West Palm BeachYes
Ted DeutchD22-Boca RatonYes
Debbie Wasserman SchultzD23-WestonYes
Frederica WilsonD24-Miami GardensYes
Mario Diaz-BalartR25-MiamiYes
Debbie Mucarsel-PowellD26-PinecrestYes
Donna ShalalaD27-Coral GablesYes

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