Equality Act vote expected in the House

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Official photo.

On May 1, the Equality Act was passed out of the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 22-10. The Equality Act adds protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodation and other areas to several federal civil rights laws. There was no support from committee Republicans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said that the Equality Act is a priority in this session of Congress. In a speech when she became Speaker, she said, “We will make America fairer by passing the Equality Act to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community.”

A floor vote on the act is expected as soon as next week.

Equality Act introduced in Congress
Anti-LGBTQ extremists foaming at the mouth over Equality Act and LGBTQ Pride month

“The testimony against the bill from Republicans was highly contentious, with many focusing on transgender protections under the act,” according to LGBTQNation.com.  As anyone watching the GOP would expect, the testimony “against the bill from Republicans was highly contentious, with many focusing on transgender protections under the act.”

The Equality Act has been introduced several times before starting in 1974. This will be its first time that either the House or the Senate has voted on the bill. The bill is expected to pass in the House, where it has 240 sponsors including three Republicans.

Its fate in the Senate is uncertain. “Its success is far from guaranteed in the Senate, however, as the Republicans control a majority of seats, even though Senator Tammy Baldwin has said that she thinks it could garner just enough votes to pass. With that in mind, it is also likely that Senate Majority Leader could halt any move forward on the bill,” said LGBTQNation.

Conservatives and religious groups have opposed the bill, saying that its passage would eliminate religious freedom in the United States. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative “think” tank, says the Act would harm five different groups if it is passed.

Those groups include:

  • Employers and workers who would be forced “to conform to new sexual norms or else lose their businesses and jobs. Examples include Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
  • Medical professionals, who would be unable to refuse services to people that they believe they shouldn’t have to serve, based on the health provider’s religious beliefs.
  • Parents and children – “This politicization of medicine would ultimately harm families by normalizing hormonal and surgical interventions for gender dysphoric children as well as ideological “education” in schools and other public venues.”
  • Women, because they may have to share a restroom with a man “who thinks he is a woman”.
  • Non-profits and volunteers, because, for example, faith based adoption agencies would no longer be able to discriminate against LGBTQ couples

Other right-wing groups have been far less measured (if you can call Heritage Foundation’s objections “measured”) in their attacks on the bill

Given the Trump Administration's previous actions against LGBTQ rights and in particular against transgender people, it seems unlikely that President Trump would sign the bill if it did pass the Senate.

Copyright The Gayly – May 9, 2019 @ 2 p.m. CDT.