Equality Act seeks fuller protection against discrimination, goes through Senate for final vote
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The Equality Act passed the U.S. House or Representatives in a 224-206 vote on Feb. 25, protecting LGBTQ Americans from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
But the act still has to go through the Senate and will need more Republican support to get passed.
In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold employment protections for LGBTQ individuals and President Joe Biden has asked federal agencies to use that ruling as a foundation for prohibiting discrimination in other areas as well.
So why continue the Equality Act?
The Human Rights Campaign has stated that without the Equality Act, “a future administration may refuse to interpret the law this way, leaving these protections vulnerable.”
According to the HRC, this legislation would further develop anti-discrimination protections in order to include all federally funded programs, public spaces and services, and which are not mentioned in the Supreme Court decision.
A small amount of Republicans voted for the bill — only three — Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.).
In essence, supporters are saying that the Equality Act will spread basic and broadly accepted principles of the Civil Rights Act to groups of people not explicitly mentioned in the bill.
Opponents point towards religious freedom as the reason they don’t support the Equality Act.
“The Equality Act does no more and no less than say LGBTQ people deserve the same rights and responsibilities than all other Americans,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the bill’s sponsor, said in a speech on the House floor Thursday.
Joseph Perkins, KUSI political contributor, joined KUSI to discuss the next step for the Equality Act.