Voting 224-206, largely along party lines, the House of Representatives today approved H.R. 5, the Equality Act, over the objections of pro-life groups that said the legislation would be exploited to promote abortions.
Several Republicans have expressed their opposition, including Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, a former presidential candidate, who said he would oppose the bill unless it added a provision giving "strong religious liberty protections".
Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill., who spoke on the House floor on Monday in support of her transgender daughter, came under attack from Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a conservative who told Newman on Twitter that "your biological son does NOT belong in my daughters' bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams", and unsuccessfully tried to delay Thursday's vote by forcing the House to vote twice on a dilatory motion to adjourn.
In May 2019, the House also passed a almost identical bill, only for it to languish in a Republican-dominated, anti-LGBTQ Senate under the previous administration.
"Passing the Equality Act the last time was historic, a day of hope and happiness for millions", said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her floor speech.
The House voted this month to remove Greene from her two committee assignments because she has repeatedly espoused false and extremist claims, including the QAnon radicalized ideology.
The difference is that the Equality Act cements this by explicitly enshrining sexual orientation and gender identity protections in law, rather than looping them under the umbrella of "sex".
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"Today the House says, 'No more, '" said Rep. Pascrell, a co-sponsor of the Equality Act.
The Supreme Court's ruling last June in the case Bostock v. Clay County extended workplace protections to LGBTQ Americans, but groups such as the National Women's Law Center say the legislation would codify the court's decision and create explicit federal protections for LGBTQ Americans beyond the workplace.
It also makes it illegal to discriminate on public transportation, public spaces, and in any US government funded program.
Republicans broadly opposed the legislation.
"And so, with the Equality Act, we must take the next step to guarantee equal protection and rights under the law for all - no matter who you love or your gender identity".
"It's been long enough".
Some of the nation's largest corporations are part of a coalition in support of the legislation, including Apple, AT&T, Chevron and 3M, just to name a few of the hundreds of companies that have endorsed it. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it requires 60 votes to bypass the filibuster. Whether medical doctors, insurance companies, a private business owner, or a parent, the Equality Act will force people who embrace traditional beliefs, to either violate their conscience and honor the Equality Act in their medical practice, while helping their child with homework, or in the private spa they operate, or be labeled a bigot and face punitive damages.