Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) has long advocated on behalf of LGBT equality, but on Friday the congresswoman made headlines as the first Republican to co-sponsor a bill repealing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
Ros-Lehtinen’s commitment to gay and lesbian rights appears to be born out of personal experience. A 2007 article on her early support for lifting the ban against gay and lesbians serving openly in the military noted that “her husband, Dexter, was cared for by a lesbian nurse when he was injured during combat in Vietnam” and her latest evolution may have been guided by her child Amanda, who “publicly came out as a transgender man named Rodrigo” and is now a “field organizer for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.”
Currently, Ros-Lehtinen is the only Republican member of the LGBT caucus and has previously supported anti-hate crime legislation, anti-discrimination measures in employment and adoption, and tax equity for employer-sponsored health care. She has also voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment and opposed Florida’s constitutional ban against same-sex marriage. Earlier this year, Ros-Lehtinen “signed on to a letter to IRS Commissioner Schulman requesting that the IRS provide clear guidance for LGBT taxpayers. The letter asks the IRS to ensure that tax law is being applied fairly to all individuals.”