COMMENTARY: 112th Congress is much less gay friendly, endangering equal rights progress

As a more conservative 112th Congress is being sworn in today, gay rights supporters are bracing for major challenges that will lie ahead.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has surveyed the new Congress and determined that there are many more anti-LGBT legislators than in the 111th Congress.

The HRC analysis shows a swing of 53 House seats and five Senate seats to anti-LGBT lawmakers.

The Republican domination in the November elections has caused a huge shift in Congress. The House swings from a pro-LGBT majority to an anti-LGBT majority. The Senate swings from a pro-LGBT majority to an even split.

Look at the figures. And weap.

House
--------------- 111th ----- 112th ----- Variance
Anti-LGBT ----- 172 ----- 225 ----- +53
Pro-LGBT ----- 196 ----- 167 ------ -29
Mixed record ---65 ------- 43 ----- -22

Senate
--------------- 111th ----- 112th ----- Variance
Anti-LGBT ------ 35 ------- 40 -------- +5
Pro-LGBT ------ 42 ------- 40 -------- -2
Mixed record -- 23 ------- 20 -------- -3

Although there is circumstantial evidence that social issues such as gay rights are becoming less of a campaign issue for Republicans, many of the new members of Congress were supported by right-wing conservatives and the so-called Tea Party faithful who are less likely to give an inch on marriage equality or anti-discrimination laws. The pressure will be intense on the new legislators to toe the party line.

This does not bode well for progress on equal rights.

A key question is whether the 112th Congress will try to roll back any of the progress that has been achieved so far.

It is imperative that the LGBT community and its allies in the struggle for equal rights keep up the pressure on Congress to do the right thing.

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