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A Conservative Democrat Finally Supports the Equality Act

Conservative Democrat Will Support Equality Act

Dan Lipinski was the only Democratic congressman who didn't co-sponsor the legislation. 

A Democratic congressman who originally planned to vote against the Equality Act has now changed his position.

U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, a conservative Democrat, was the only member of the House Democratic caucus who didn't co-sponsor the Equality Act, according to The Hill.

But in a speech on the House floor Wednesday, Lipinski surprised colleagues and voiced support for the legislation, which would expand federal protections for LGBTQ individuals.

"All Americans deserve equal treatment under the law and should have these rights protected, including individuals in the LGBT community," Lipinski said.

The Democrat did say he wants provisions that make sure tax-exempt status for churches will not be threatened.

"It is critical to ensure that religious freedom stands a chance to be fully lived out and fairly treated in court. This week, I will vote for the Equality Act for the broader goal. But before it becomes law, we must do more to ensure religious liberty," he said.

The bill still faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate and President Trump has said he does not support the bill.

Still, news of Lipinski's support signals the entire Democratic caucus today will vote up the Equality Act.

In the past, Lipinski has voiced support for so-called religious liberty arguments, and he previously co-sponsored the First Amendment Defense Act, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Notably, the incumbent Democrat this year faces a challenge from progressive Marie Newman, whom Lipinski in 2018 defeated in a primary by only about 2,000 votes.

Newman has made Lipinski's skittishness on full equality for LGBTQ peoole a central issue of her campaign against the incumbent. She sent out a fundraising email earlier this year blasting Lipinski for failing to co-sponsor the Equality Act, according to Roll Call.

"Once again, he's bucking the Democratic Party to stand against equality, something he's done consistently throughout his 14 years in Congress," she wrote.

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