A Republican congressman has broken ranks with his party to support a bill to introduce LGBT non-discrimination protections.
The Equality Act, which was reintroduced to Congress earlier this year, would introduce federal-level protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
At current the issue is only covered by a patchwork of state laws, meaning in more than 30 states it is still legal to fire people for being gay.
The law has amassed the support of nearly 200 Democrats in the House and 43 in the Senate, but Republicans have been reluctant to back the law.
To date the only Republican to openly declare support was Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is not seeking re-election in 2018.
However, another Republican has this week agreed to co-sponsor the law.
GOP Rep. Scott Taylor, the Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s 2nd district, announced he would become a co-sponsor.
He said: “Discrimination anywhere is an injustice. I’m proud to support the Equality Act and will work to ensure that all are treated the same under the law.”
The politician, who is the Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s 2nd district, was praised by the Human Rights Campaign.
HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy said: “The growing support for the Equality Act by Republicans, Democrats, and Independents proves that LGBT equality is not a partisan issue.
“All Americans should have a fair chance to earn a living, provide for their families, and live their lives without fear of discrimination.
“We are grateful for Rep. Scott Taylor’s leadership and support for this crucially important legislation that will finally ensure LGBT people are protected from unjust discrimination.”
HRC hailed the congressman as “a leader in standing up for LGBT non-discrimination protections throughout his career”.
While a state lawmaker in Virginia, the politician was one of the lead sponsors of legislation to protect LGBT people from discrimination under Virginia’s Fair Housing Law. In Congress he also tabled a measure to amend the Fair Housing Act by adding sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination protections.
Polling shows overwhelming support for LGBT discrimination protections.
Polling released last year by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that support for a bill like the Equality Act topped 70 percent nationally, including a majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
The polling also showed that even among voters who opposed equal marriage, a plurality support nondiscrimination legislation.
49 percent of people who don’t support same-sex marriage believe that gay people should still be protected from discrimination – with just 45 percent opposed.