WASHINGTON (WAVY) — United States lawmakers in the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act Thursday.
The bill passed by a vote of 224-206 with three Republicans joining Democrats in voting yes.
The legislation would preserve LGBTQ protections in the nation’s labor and civil rights laws, a top priority of President Joe Biden.
The act would amend existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics. The protections would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education, public accommodations and other areas. Supporters say the law before the House on Thursday is long overdue and would ensure that every person is treated equally under the law.
The legislation still faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
Shortly after the House passed the Equality Act, North Carolina and Virginia lawmakers, as well as other groups, released statements on its passage.
Those statements are included below:
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)
Congressman Gregory F. Murphy (R-N.C.)
“Let me say very plainly that I believe in equality in our country. Discrimination in any form is wrong, but the so-called ‘Equality Act’ is anything but. It is a blatant attack on science, religious liberty, women and parents’ rights,” said Murphy. “Using the coercive power of the state to force people to recognize individuals by their ‘chosen’ gender rather than their biological sex has awful implications for free speech and our society as a whole. The Democrats do not want to stop until they have complete and total control of every aspect of your life.
“The bill attacks religious groups, charities, and other interest groups that dare to differ ideologically and philosophically. It would force religious institutions to go against their beliefs in clear violation of the First Amendment. This bill would redefine sex to include the term ‘gender identity.’ It allows biological men to participate in women’s sports, which could theoretically mark the end of women’s sports in America as we know it. The measure also allows physicians to administer puberty blockers and sex reassignment surgeries without parents’ consent to underage minors, undermining parental authority.
“The bill also legalizes abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, and worse, provides taxpayer funding for it. This is an aberrant piece of legislation and I thoroughly regret its passage in the House. I pray that it does not survive the Senate in its current form.”
Congresswoman Elaine Luria (D-Va.)
“This long-overdue legislation codifies the values that are central to our democracy: justice, fairness, and equal protection under the law,” said Congresswoman Elaine Luria. “The LGBTQ+ community has lived without basic civil rights protections for too long, and today’s vote means we are one step closer to ensuring that no one is denied access to their constitutional rights because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I will always be an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and the rights of all Virginians.”
Southern Poverty Law Center Interim Deputy Director Scott McCoy
“We applaud the US House of Representatives’ passage of the Equality Act, which explicitly names LGBTQ+ people in our federal civil rights laws.
“Express inclusion in and expansion of those laws will help end and deter the discriminatory practices that directly harm LGBTQ+ people and their families when it comes to employment, housing, health care, public spaces and services, education, access to credit (such as for mortgages), and all activities that receive federal funding. The Equality Act will also prevent the misuse of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and authorize the attorney general to intervene in federal court in equal protection actions alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“It is disgraceful that until now, LGBTQ+ people were not included by name in these essential protections. We urge the US Senate to quickly pass the Equality Act so that LGBTQ+ people can finally receive the dignity and respect they deserve.”
This story will be updated as other statements are released.