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US House Again Rejects Bill Combating LGBT Discrimination


FILE - The Senate (R) and the Capitol Dome are seen in Washington.

The U.S. House of Representatives has rejected a measure that bars federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity, just hours after earlier approving the legislation.

Conservative Republicans in the House blocked passage of an energy and water spending measure Thursday, after Democrats succeeded in attaching the anti-discrimination restriction to the legislation late Wednesday.

The reversal prompted a loud outcry from Democratic lawmakers, who accused Republicans of favoring discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The first vote late Wednesday (by a 223-195 margin), reversed a vote last week that plunged the Republican-led House into chaos.

In the vote a week ago, the gay-transgender rights bill was on the verge of being approved as an amendment to a military spending bill when several Republican lawmakers who initially supported it changed their vote under pressure from party leaders, eventually sending the measure to defeat by a single vote.

New York Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney, the bill's original sponsor who is openly gay, reintroduced the measure as an amendment to a funding bill for the Energy Department, the one that cleared Wednesday.

The issue of LGBT rights emerged as a potent political issue this year, after the Atlantic coastal state of North Carolina passed a bill that mandates transgender people use public bathrooms of their gender at birth, instead of their chosen gender identity.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama and North Carolina are embroiled in a legal battle over the state's new law and 11 states have sued the national government over the federal government's stance that restrictions on bathroom usage violates the country's civil rights laws.

Conservative lawmakers in the House did succeed in passing a bill that would make sure federal funding isn't taken away from North Carolina because of the state's bathroom law.