The Bill bans discrimination in employment, housing, education, and in federally funded programs
In a 224-206 vote the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5 - Equality Act to protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill bans discrimination in employment, housing, education, and in federally funded programs. It would also expand Title VII to cover public accommodations and websites.
Three Republicans crossed party lines to endorse the bill. The Act may have an uphill battle without additional Republican support to pass through the Senate. Most Republicans oppose the bill due to its perceived infringement on religious freedom, stating that the bill fails to clarify that “places of accommodation” do not include places of worship.
The Equality Act would amend federal law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act. Even though President Biden signed the Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of LGBTQ employment protections, many human rights organizations feel that a change in the federal law is needed.
The Equality Act is important legislation whose time has come. Although a 2020 Supreme Court ruling said that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, President Biden’s Executive Order of it also applying to education, housing, and health care could be vulnerable to future administrations who see it differently. The Equality Act would codify those protections.
For decades, civil rights laws have proven effective in decreasing discrimination in the workplace. With the Equality Act, LGBTQ people will finally receive the same protections as other covered characteristics under federal law.
Not only has the bill received bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, but the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute found that more than 70% of Americans support a bill like the Equality Act. Additionally, nearly a thousand organizations including major companies, education, healthcare, and faith-based organizations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have endorsed it. Let’s hope the Senate does the same.
All employees deserve to know they are protected from discrimination when they come to work no matter who they love or what gender they are. This law would make that a reality.