Who is Katie Porter? Where does she stand on LGBTQ+ rights?

Representative Katie Porter, LGBTQ+ issues, political stances
Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) Photo: Shutterstock

Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) has become well-known for direct, tough questioning, and use of whiteboard visual aids during congressional committee hearings. Not only was she the first Democrat ever to win a House seat from California’s notoriously conservative Orange County, she has also proved herself as a progressive ally who supports LGBTQ+ civil rights and anti-discrimination protections.

Katie Porter at a glance

  • Location: Irvine, California
  • Party affiliation: Democrat
  • Position sought: U.S. senator
  • Race/ethnicity: White
  • Sexual orientation: Straight
  • Gender identity: Female
  • LGBTQ+ ally: Yes

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Born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Porter graduated from Yale University in 1996 with a major in American studies. During her time at Yale, she interned in the office of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Porter graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2001 with a Juris Doctor. While at Harvard, she served as notes editor for the Harvard Women’s Law Journal.

In 2003, she married and had three children. She and her spouse divorced in 2013. Porter has also taught as a law professor at the University of California in Irvine.

Porter was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, becoming the first Democrat elected in her traditionally Republican district. She was re-elected to the House in 2020 and 2022. During her time in Congress, she has served on the Committee on Natural Resources’ subcommittees for oversight and investigations; energy and mineral resources, and national parks, forests, and public lands.

In January 2023, Porter announced her campaign to become California’s U.S. senator, possibly filling the seat of retiring LGBTQ+ ally Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Porter’s stands on LGBTQ+ issues

Porter has repeatedly supported legislation that would combat anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and enshrine queer civil rights into national law.

Same-sex marriage

Porter voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation that required the federal and state governments to recognize legal same-sex marriages.

Same-sex couples’ right to adopt

Porter has advocated for ending adoption rules that prevent LGBTQ+ couples from starting families.

In a February 2020 congressional hearing, she said, “Folks like my constituent David and his husband often face roadblocks in adoption, erected by people who demean his family and call it ‘non-traditional.’ As a single mom, I reject labels like ‘traditional’ or ‘non-traditional’ because the only family that matters is a loving one.”

Don’t Say Gay/LGBTQ+ discussions in schools

In February 2022, Porter co-signed a letter expressing concern about Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans LGBTQ+ content from public school classrooms. The letter said the bill “opens the floodgates” for future anti-LGBTQ+ bills around the U.S., will harm the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth, and will deprive LGBTQ+ students of seeing “their own history and experiences reflected in their education.”

Transgender access to public bathrooms

Porter supports the Equality Act, which would protect trans people’s right to use public facilities matching their gender identity.

In a 2018 interview, she said she “strongly opposed” then-President Donald Trump’s attacks on the transgender community.

“This is a country of freedoms and people should have the right to identify themselves in whatever way fits with their lives. We’re a place that should respect those differences…. [Trump’s anti-trans stance] obviously has a political intent, which is to try to intimidate and to signal to people that their voices don’t matter.”

Discrimination protections

In 2021, Porter voted for the Equality Act, a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, extending anti-discrimination protections to employment, housing, education, public accommodations, and other areas.

In a February 25, 2021 tweet, Porter wrote, “No matter where they live, who they love, or who they are, every American should be able to live free from discrimination. As a co-sponsor of the #EqualityAct, which bans discrimination.”

“It’s not enough to just pass these laws and give people symbolic victories,” Porter has said. “Equality is an abstract ideal, but it’s also something that manifests in people’s real lives.”

Porter also supports the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2021, legislation that would require colleges and universities to implement policies to stop anti-LGBTQ+ harassment. The act would also empower the Department of Education to issue grants to assist the implementation of these policies in institutes of higher education.

She also supports the John Lewis Every Child Deserves a Family Act, legislation that prohibits child welfare programs from discriminating against LGBTQ+ youth.

Additionally, Porter has sought efforts to fund efforts to end anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination around the world and to create comprehensive government standards for universally protecting LGBTQ+ civil rights. She secured an amendment in the Global Respect Act that would require the government to make public reports on individuals who violate the human rights of LGBTQ+ people.

Conversion therapy

Porter is a co-sponsor of the Transgender Bill of Rights which would ban “conversion therapy” practices.

Other LGBTQ+ issues

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Porter demanded that the Food and Drug Administration end its decades-old blood ban, refusing donations from people who were assigned a male gender at birth and who have sex with other men.

Porter supports the LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act, legislation that would federal agencies that include questions on official surveys related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and variations in sex characteristics.

Porter’s career

  • Graduated from Yale with a major in American studies in 1996
  • Interned for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
  • Graduated from Harvard Law School with a Juris Doctor in 2001
  • Served as notes editor for the Harvard Women’s Law Journal
  • Taught as a law professor at the University of California in Irvine
  • Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018

In conclusion

Porter has been repeatedly endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign as a pro-LGBTQ+ legislative ally. Her voting record proves her progressive credentials as a champion for queer civil rights.

Stay informed about her career by subscribing to the LGBTQ Nation newsletter.

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