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U.S. Rep. John Katko at an event in Syracuse. 

U.S. Rep. John Katko was one of eight House Republicans voted Friday for a bill that aims to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. 

The House passed the Equality Act by a 236-173 vote. Katko, R-Camillus, and two other New York Republicans — U.S. Reps. Tom Reed and Eiise Stefanik — supported the bill. 

The legislation would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing and public facilities. According to a summary, the bill would give the Department of Justice power to intervene in federal equal protection cases "on account of sexual orientation or gender identity." 

The bill also prevents individuals from being denied access to bathrooms, dressing rooms and other shared facilities that are associated with a person's gender identity. 

In a statement explaining his vote, Katko explained that there is a similar law in New York. Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill in January. 

"The legislation before the House today, which has strong support in the business and manufacturing community, creates a uniform and clear federal standard for addressing discrimination," Katko said. "It ensures that all people have the necessary protections and are given equal opportunity in the workplace." 

A New York-based conservative group blasted Katko, Reed and Stefanik for supporting the Equality Act. 

Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, labeled the trio the "Compromised Three." and claimed the legislation would "enshrine religious bigotry in America."

"When these individuals come calling for conservative support next year, voters should remember how quickly New York's 'Compromised Three' caved to politically correct special interests," he said. 

With opposition from most Republicans, it's unlikely that the GOP-led Senate will vote on the bill. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.


Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at