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Equality Act passes U.S. House

Congress
The United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Image by MotionStudios from Pixabay)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act on Friday. It now goes to the Senate.

The Washington Post reported that the bill passed 236-to-173, with eight Republicans breaking ranks and joining all Democrats in backing the measure. Whether or not it gets a vote in the Senate is another question. Trump has already voiced opposition to it.

The newspaper reported that most GOP representatives opposed the act because it supposedly violates religious freedom and nullifies women’s rights.

“It is bad for freedom to force small business owners all across this country to provide services or products to the public that may violate their deeply held faith-based convictions,” Rep. Ross Spano (R-Fla) told the Post. “Again, allowing the state to essentially impose from above top down its own moral codes and rules in place of those of the individual.”

Democrats, on the other hand, celebrated the vote.

“This bipartisan measure is long overdue,” said U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Chicago) in an email. “In 2019, it’s a shame and national embarrassment that you can get married on Saturday and fired on Monday because of who you married. Who you love has NO impact of your ability to do a job and its past time for our laws to reflect that.”

Kelly called on the Senate to vote on the bill immediately. Kelly was a co-sponsors of the Equality Act. It was introduced by U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island). The acts adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act list of protected classes.

“Today’s historic vote is a major milestone for equality and sends a powerful and profound message to LGBTQ people, especially LGBTQ youth, that the U.S. House has their backs,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “No one’s rights should depend on which side of a state or city line they live on, and today we took a giant step forward in our journey toward full equality.”

“Today’s vote marks a proud triumph for the liberty of transgender people nationwide,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Transgender people have been denied our freedom for generations, trapped by the ignorance, fear, and violence that marks too many of our lives. Under Speaker Pelosi and Rep. Cicilline’s leadership, the House has today set the groundwork for a future in which transgender people are free to prosper and thrive alongside their fellow Americans.”

“We call on the Senate to give the Equality Act the full, fair and comprehensive consideration it deserves,” said Lambda Legal Interim CEO Richard Burns. “The Equality Act addresses the inadequate patchwork of protections that vary from state to state with a broad federal statute protecting LGBTQ people across the country and throughout their daily lives. The Equality Act codifies the American principle that a person’s job performance, rather than sexual orientation or gender identity, should determine success on the job.”

U.S. Rep John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) voted against the bill and posted this on his Facebook page:

“LGBTQ Americans are one step closer to being protected by federal law instead of living in a country where hard-working Americans in a majority of states can be fired from their jobs, denied housing opportunities, and turned away from other critical services – including access to health care – simply for being who they are. Fairness should never be a partisan political issue, and the Senate should pass this bill without delay,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD.

This post is being updated with reactions as they become available.

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