In a historic vote, the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act in a 236-173 bipartisan vote. The bill protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, the workplace, public accommodations, and more settings.
“Today, Democrats reaffirmed our support for the equitable and fair treatment of LGBTQ people,” Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement. “Every LGBTQ person, regardless of where they live, deserves the right to earn a living, raise a family and live a life free from discrimination.”
What makes the decision so important is that it addresses a gap in already existing civil rights laws. There are already federal laws in place that protects people from discrimination based on race, religion, sex, and disability; however, the Equality Act is the only federal bill that explicitly protects the LGBTQ community.
The Equality Act was first introduced in 2015 and expands protections to prohibit discrimination based on sex, as well as strengthening already existing protections, such as ensuring retail stores and banks are covered.
While the news of the bill’s passing should be celebrated, it’s important to note that it may face a tougher time in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans who generally oppose LGBTQ legislation. There is a strong possibility that the Equality Act may not become law.
Regardless, advocates are still celebrating the House’s passing of the law as a step in the right direction.
“Today’s vote marks another historic moment in our nation’s continuing journey toward ensuring equality and fair treatment for all Americans,” said Gary Buseck, Legal Director at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, in an email statement. “Individuals, businesses, and political leaders across this country have come to understand that no one should be at risk for being denied a home, fired from a job, or excluded from access to fundamental services because of who they are or who they love.”