John Kline, Minnesota's Most Reprehensible Congressman (TM), has been trying to look less evil lately. He's toured dilapidated Native American schools and supported debt relief for for-profit college students.
But the newly huggable Kline — motto: Now 4 percent less wicked! — still can't bring himself to be nice to gay people.
He was the lone member of Minnesota's congressional delegation to vote against a law that prohibits the feds from doing business with contractors who discriminate based on race, gender identity, and sexual preference.
Democratic Rep. Scott Peters's legislation, which outlaws taxpayer cash from going to housing and urban development contractors that don't have LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination polices, passed by 57 votes.
Sixty GOP lawmakers joined Democrats in supporting the measure, evidence that some Republicans have disembarked in the 21st century.
Still, every vote against came from Republicans, including Kline, who just months ago came out against Labor Department rules aimed at protecting the gay employees of federal contractors from discrimination.
Support for Peters's measure is largely symbolic.
It's attached to a larger transportation, housing, and urban development bill. The White House has said it will veto the greater legislation because it includes cutting $242 million from Amtrak's budget, which comes in the wake of a fatal train wreck that killed eight people and injured 400 more.
By continuing to oppose laws attempting to end LGBT discrimination, Kline appears to think that his district's voters believe that equal rights only apply to straight people. A miscalculation on this issue could prove catastrophic.
Recent history shows he's hitched his political fortunes to the wrong horse before.
The long-loyal defender of for-profit colleges was already forced to backpedal just weeks ago when he came out in favor of debt forgiveness for thousands of former Corinthian College students. Kline had been one of Corinthian's biggest supporters until the for-profit college collapsed amid a slew of investigations.
Only a year ago, he played a pivotal role in jacking interest rates on federal student loans.
In an effort to save his political arse, Kline has begun to distance himself from the much-maligned industry. His recently announced jobs fair includes no for-profit colleges, whereas dozens attended in recent years.
When it comes to discrimination, perhaps Kline feels Minnesota's gay community doesn't have enough critical mass to matter. He's betting that equal rights for all don't matter to his constituents, either.
We're betting that history will come back to haunt him once again.
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