The House of Representatives voted Thursday to pass a bill that expands protections for LGBTQ+ people.
The Equality Act passed by a 224-206 majority, and now heads to the 50-50 Senate, where it will no doubt get caught up in the silly virtue politics played by establishment Republicans cosplaying social conservatism.
The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make certain that LGBTQ+ Americans are afforded the same protection against discrimination as every other citizen. Specifically, the bill would change existing civil rights laws to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, federal financial assistance, housing, access to credit, employment, federal jury service, and education.
Federal courts and agencies have already interpreted federal law banning sex discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Equality Act would close enforcement gaps and guarantee legal protection for all LGBTQ+ Americans.
In 31 states, a person can be denied access to education because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ+ Americans can also be denied housing in 27 states. The current patchwork of protections is often insufficient to prevent discrimination of LGBTQ+ people in education, housing, employment, and other areas of daily life.
“In America — in 2021 — LGBTQ+ people can be denied access to an education, a mortgage, or a job because they found the person they love — or because they have the courage to stand firm in who they are,” said Seventh District Democrat Abigail Spanberger, an original cosponsor of the Equality Act.
“This Equality Act is about more than equality — it’s about righting wrongs, reasserting our commitment to equal rights, and making sure every person is treated with dignity and has the same rights. Tonight, I’m thinking of the thousands of Virginians who’ve waited far too long to see progress on this legislation. I hope they know that their voices are being heard, and I promise to keep fighting for them. I urge our colleagues in the Senate to think of these families when considering this legislation— and to move this bill to the President’s desk as soon as possible,” Spanberger said.
“This long-overdue legislation codifies the values that are central to our democracy: justice, fairness, and equal protection under the law,” said Second District Democrat Elaine Luria, who voted with the majority approving the bill. “The LGBTQ+ community has lived without basic civil rights protections for too long, and today’s vote means we are one step closer to ensuring that no one is denied access to their constitutional rights because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I will always be an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and the rights of all Virginians.”
“I was pleased to vote in favor of the Equality Act to defend civil rights for all and protect the livelihoods of LGBTQ people across the nation,” said Fourth District Democrat Donald McEachin, a member of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus. “Every American deserves the right to lives of equal dignity and the protections to work hard, live well, and seek equal access to accommodations and services for ourselves and our families without fear of harassment and discrimination.
“The fierce urgency in the voices of LGBTQ people who have waited too long for equal justice under the law demands that we act now, and I call on the U.S. Senate to join my colleagues and I in passing the Equality Act to ensure that the ideals of liberty and justice enshrined in the Constitution truly extend to every citizen,” McEachin said.
Story by Chris Graham