Pa.’s congressional Republicans get failing grades on LGBTQ rights group’s scorecard | Friday Morning Coffee

(Image via Human Rights Campaign)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

The civil rights group Human Rights Campaign is out with its scorecard for the current session of Congress, and its findings may force some lawmakers back to the blackboard, Bart Simpson-style, where they’ll have to scribble “I will do a better job of supporting LGBTQ Americans” over and over again.

“Over these last two years, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have remained relentless in their anti-equality attacks. From targeting LGBTQ people’s access to health care, to supporting discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace, to the appointment of extreme antiLGBTQ judges to the federal bench, this White House has redoubled their efforts to undermine our community’s progress,” the group’s president, Alphonso David, writes in the scorecard’s introduction.

The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate comes in for particular scrutiny in the new report card since the chamber is responsible for packing the federal bench with conservative jurists who have proven hostile to LGBTQ Americans.

David credits the majority-Democrat U.S. House, which passed legislation in May 2019 providing anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans. That bill remains mired in the Senate.

“The interwoven nature of LGBTQ equality with the progress of all communities demands leadership committed to advancing justice for all,” David wrote. “From working to increase public safety with the passage of long overdue gun background checks legislation, restoring the Voting Rights Act to ensure access at the ballot box, and guaranteeing Dreamers can stay in the only country they have ever known, pro-equality leaders in the House advanced crucial legislation for marginalized communities across the nation. And thanks to this pro-equality majority in the U.S. House, our elected champions were able to block legislation seeking to undermine our progress.”

U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) of Pennsylvania (Capital-Star file)

The HRC’s scorecard grades the Senate on 15 different measures, including votes on President Donald Trump’s impeachment and the confirmation of U.S. Attorney General William Barr. The scorecard also takes into account support for such legislation as the anti-discrimination Equality Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (which restored and revamped the original Voting Rights Act), along with confirmation votes for several federal judges.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., gets a 97 on the group’s scorecard, taking a ding for failing to line up with the HRC’s position on a bill rejiggering the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to clarify that religious freedom is fine as long as it doesn’t inflict harm on someone else.

Casey’s Republican colleague, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, got a straight goose egg for failing to support the Human Rights Campaign’s position on any issue — though one imagines that Toomey’s vote to acquit Trump during his impeachment trial would have been a deal-breaker alone.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 21: The U.S. Capitol is shown at dusk.(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Over on the other side of the Capitol, the HRC scorecard grades the 435-member U.S. House similarly for their votes and support for 15 measures. They include, once again, impeachment, the Equality Act, and the John Lewis Act. Votes on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the Dream Act, the big immigration reform bill, also are included.

Here’s how Pennsylvania’s House Delegation stacked up:

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District: 71
U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-2nd District: 100
U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-3rd District: 100
U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District: 100
U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District: 100
U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th District: 100
U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District: 100
U.S. Rep. Matthew Cartwright, D-8th District: 100
U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, R-9th District: 0
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District: 0
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-11th District: 0
U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-12th District: 0
U.S. Rep. John Joyce, D-13th District: 0
U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, D-14th District: 0
U.S. Rep. Glen ‘GT’ Thompson, R-15th District: 0
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District: 0
U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District: 94
U.S. Rep; Mike Doyle, D-18th District: 100

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
Our weeklong Battle for the Ballot series concludes this morning with a nationwide look at the flurry of ballot challenge lawsuits now wending their way through state and federal courts from coast to coast — including right here in Pennsylvania.

In this week’s edition of our Election Mailbag, we take on reader questions ranging from a simple change of address to whether you’re allowed to pack heat in the polling place. Elizabeth Hardison has the details.

It’s a two-fer from Stephen Caruso: First up, it’s everything you need to know about Thursday night’s 10th Congressional District debate between Democrat Eugene DePasquale and GOP U.S. Rep. Scott Perry.

And state Rep. Aaron Bernstine, R-Beaver, who recorded himself encouraging his five-year-old son to smoke a cigar and use vulgar language about women is now defying calls for his resignation, and instead is asking voters to make up their own minds with less than a month until the election, Caruso also reports.

Attorneys and allies of Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice David Wecht are dismissing a ‘politically motivated’ impeachment resolution sponsored by Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon, your humble newsletter author reports.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto want COVID-contagious President Donald Trump to take a pass on a reported visit to Pittsburgh next week, our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper report.

On our Commentary Page this morning, former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., and Ali Mahmood, of the Marquette School of Law ACS Chapter, argue that while conservatives think they can shut down the struggle for justice, activists stand ready to stop them (h/t to our sibling site, the Wisconsin Examiner, where this piece first appeared).

En la Estrella-Capital: ¿Puedo usar el vestuario de la campaña para las urnas? ¿Qué es una boleta provisional? | Bolsa de correo de elección. ¿Quiere entregar a mano su boleta en Pa.? Aquí hay un mapa de oficinas electorales y buzones.

(Image via pxHere.com)

Elsewhere.
The churches that give sanctuary to undocumented immigrants are each reaching the breaking point, the Inquirer reports.
In Westmoreland County, a battleground in a battleground, mail-in ballots weren’t sent out as planned, the Tribune-Review reports.
Gov. Tom Wolf said he’s concerned about the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the state, PennLive reports.
Cold weather might be driving the uptick in COVID-19 citations at Lehigh Valley restaurants, the Morning Call reports.
Emergency food boxes in Luzerne County and elsewhere include a letter signed by President Donald Trump taking credit for the assistance, the Citizens-Voice reports. People are keeping the food. The letters are going straight into the trash.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

A Delaware resident is among those facing charges for an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, WHYY-FM reports. 
Pennsylvania had a ‘record number’ of instant background checks in Q3, WESA-FM reports.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report has shifted the Erie-based 16th Congressional District from ‘solid’ to ‘likely’ Republican, while U.S. Rep. Susan Wild’s 7th District seat has gone from ‘leans’ to ‘likely’ Democratic (via PoliticsPA).
NY Mag’s Intelligencer 
looks at President Donald Trump’s efforts to revive the stimulus talks that he personally blew up this week.

What Goes On.
10 a.m, Online: 
House Democratic Policy Committee

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to PennLive reporter Christine Vendel, who celebrates today. Congratulations and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s another previously unreleased solo track from Dream Syndicate frontman Steve Wynn. From the new, career-spanning box set ‘Decade,’ it’s ‘Milky White.’ Play this one really, really loud.

Friday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link.
The Guardian
 goes deep on the factors that drove the collapse of Macclesfield Town, a beloved local club.

And now you’re up to date.

John L. Micek
A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press