Why did Nancy Pelosi endorse an anti-LGBT candidate?

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) LGBTQ Nation

The Democratic primary in Illinois’s 3rd Congressional district is heating up.

The seat has been held by conservative “Blue Dog” Democrat Dan Lipinski since his father died in 2005. He opposes LGBT rights, as well as women’s reproductive rights, the Affordable Care Act, and the DREAM Act.

This year, Lipinski faces a primary challenge by progressive Marie Newman, and Democrats have generally not been backing Lipinski. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) have both backed Newman, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has refused to endorse the incumbent.

Newman has also gotten the endorsements of several progressive organizations, like HRC, Emily’s List, and Planned Parenthood, and she’s running ads like this against Lipinski.

Illinois’s 3rd, which includes part of Chicago’s southwest side and suburbs, is a pretty progressive area. 55% of the district voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and only 40% voted for Donald Trump. So Democrats are looking to get a more progressive politician to represent that district.

But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has endorsed Lipinski.

The former Speaker’s political positions are well to the left of Lipinski’s. He has been a source of frustration as he voted against the Affordable Care Act, a bill that Pelosi worked for months to get passed.

And, as Mother Jones notes, if her endorsement is out of loyalty to the incumbent, Lipinski hasn’t reciprocated. He has repeatedly voted against Pelosi for Minority Leader.

For the last several years, Lipinski has been the Democrat with the lowest score on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard, refusing to co-sponsor LGBT rights bills like the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Equality Act that other Democrats co-sponsored.

In 2011, he opposed efforts by Congressional Democrats to repeal DOMA, which prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. He has continued to say that he opposes marriage equality.

In 2015, Lipinksi was the only Democrat to co-sponsor the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill proposed shortly after the Obergefell decision that would have banned discrimination based on someone’s “belief that marriage should be limited to heterosexual couples.” And in 2016, he supported the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would have permitted businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.

LGBT rights legislation is unlikely to happen when Republicans control Congress. But when Democrats take control of Congress in the future, they will have to deal with the conservatives in their own party.

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