US Equality Act passes House, heads to the Senate
The US Equality Act, which would give LGBT people legal protections at the federal level, has passed at the House of Representatives and is now on its way to the Senate.
The legislation was approved with 224 “yes” votes against 206 votes of “no.” Three Republicans joined the Democrats in voting “yes.”
The Equality Act had actually passed in 2019 when the Democrats first took control of the House. However, the Republican-controlled Senate under the Trump administration blocked the passage of the bill.
But after the recent elections, the Democrats have a slim majority in the Senate as Vice President Kamala Harris has the tie-breaking vote.
Passage of the US Equality Act at the House
Like the last time, the Democrats didn’t have a hard time to push the passage of the bill despite the efforts of some Republicans.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Rome)– who has been one of the most vocal against the Equality Act– had tried to force a vote to adjourn the House to delay passage of the bill.
Representative David Cicilline (D-Providence), who led the push, said: “With today’s vote, the House has again affirmed that LGBTQ people should enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as all other Americans.”
Likewise, Congresswoman Marie Newman (D-La Grange), whose daughter is transgender, said in a speech on the House floor: “I’m voting yes on the Equality Act for Evie Newman, my daughter and the strongest, bravest person I know.”
President Joe Biden had tagged the bill as one of his priorities during his campaign, and had supported the passage of the bill at the House.
“Every person should be treated with dignity and respect, and this bill represents a critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality and freedom for all,” Biden said.
US Equality Act faces uphill battle at the Senate
The Equality Act would protect the LGBT people from being discriminated based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and other services.
The bill, which would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect the LGBT community, is expected to have harder time at the Senate with opponents saying the bill could infringe on religious liberties.
Republicans had attacked the bill with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) saying the bill is part of an “onslaught against freedom” by the Biden administration.
Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said he intends to bring this proposed bill to the floor.
However, with the Senate evenly divided with a 50-50 party split, the bill needs 60 votes to advance at the upper chamber.
While the Democrats can eliminate the step of legislative filibuster to allow the passage of the bill with a simple majority, this is considered controversial.