House passes Equality Act to protect against LGBTQ discrimination

May 17, 2019 GMT

The House of Representatives on Friday passed the Equality Act, which would add LGBTQ protections to the Civil Rights Act, but faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The bill passed 236-173, with the unanimoussupport of Democrats and eight Republicans crossing the aisle.

If the bill becomes law, it will prevent discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community in housing, employment, service and other areas.

“This is not only important to the LGBTQ community, it’s important for America, ending discrimination,“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a Thursday press conference. “Our history has always been one of expanding freedom and reducing discrimination.”

Other Democratic leaders praised the bill they say will boost civil rights protections across the board.

“Much of the history of the United States has been about expanding the definition of who is understood to be included when the Declaration of Independence says, ‘all men are created equal,’” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said on the House floor Friday.

“At this moment, we have an opportunity to continue our march toward justice,” Mr. Nadler said. “To enshrine in our nation’s laws protections for marginalized communities to ensure that everyone can fully participate in key areas of life, and to provide them recourse in the face of discrimination.”

Republicans have blasted the bill, which they say would strain individual religious freedom and pressure businesses and schools with “specific accommodations.”

“Its vague and circular definition of gender identity will lead only to uncertainty, litigation, and harm to individuals and organizations that will be forced to comply with a law the authors don’t even seem to understand,“Rep. Virginia Foxx said on the House floor Friday. “This is a classic example of passing something now and figuring out what it actually means later. If the devil is in the details, we’re in for a lot of devilish surprises.”

The bill will likely not go far in the Republican-controlled Senate, and a senior White House administration official told The Blade this week President Trump would not sign it “in its current form.”

“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all,” the officialsaid. “However, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”