Rep. Poliquin flips, casts deciding vote for LGBT discrimination

Rep. Poliquin flips, casts deciding vote for LGBT discrimination

Amid shouts of “shame!” from his colleagues on the House floor, Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine today changed his vote on an amendment to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination by federal contractors. The measure failed 213-212.

The amendment was set to pass, with 217 votes in favor, until Poliquin and several other Republicans flipped their votes under pressure from party leadership.

 “Not only did they vote against equality and inclusion, but those who switched their votes did not even have the courage to do so openly in the well of the House,” said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer in a statement. “They did so quietly from the back benches, contrary to established practice that requires vote-switching to be done in person at the Clerk’s desk.”

The New York Times reports that after it became clear the measure was about to pass, “members of the Republican whip team, whose job is to round up needed votes, were stalking the House chamber’s aisles where GOP lawmakers sit, and they openly pleaded for support.”

The amendment was introduced by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, New York’s first openly gay member of Congress.

“It’s disappointing that Bruce Poliquin chose to follow the orders of Republican leadership by voting to allow discrimination against LGBT people, rather than representing the will of the Mainers he is supposed to be serving,” said Matt Moonen, executive director of EqualityMaine in a statement released after the vote.

Update: Emily Cain, Poliquin’s Democratic opponent this November, has responded to the flip:

“This is politics at its absolute worst. Congressman Poliquin changed his vote and didn’t even have the courage to do it in public. Discrimination is bad for the economy, and it’s just bad period. I always have and always will stand against discrimination,” said Cain. “Maine people can count on me to be honest and open about my beliefs and my votes.”

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