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House Passes Equality Act in Historic Victory for LGBTQ Rights

equality act

The Equality Act has officially passed the House of Representatives in a historic vote.

It's the first time a chamber of Congress has approved the comprehensive LGBTQ civil rights bill. The bill aims to provide nationwide protections for LGBTQ people across many sectors of everyday life. The House had approved the more limited Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2007 and the Senate had done so in 2013, but lacking passage in both chambers in the same session, ENDA never became law. 

The House vote today was 236-173. Among Democrats, 228 voted for the measure and seven did not cast a vote. None voted against it. Eight Republicans voted for the bill and 173 against, and 16 did not vote.

The bill now moves on to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it's expected to face far more opposition. Only a few Republican senators have come out in support of the historic legislation. There are 53 Republicans in the chamber, 45 Democrats, and two independents, both of whom caucus with the Democrats. It would take the addition of 13 Republican votes to reach the 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster, assuming that all Democrats vote for it. One Democratic senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, does not support the Equality Act, but advocates believe he can be brought on board, the Washington Blade reports.

But also, just last week, President Donald Trump's administration announced that it does not support the bill.

 

 

Many LGBTQ and allied groups put out statements lauding the bill's House victory. A sampling:

"LGBTQ youth deserve every equal right and protection as their peers, no matter where in this great nation they live. Today's passage of the Equality Act is a monumental step toward bringing about those equal rights and protections. As we look toward the Senate and the eventual passage of landmark pieces of legislation like this, LGBTQ youth should know that the fight for their equality is moving swiftly forward toward a world where they will be free to be themselves." —Sam Brinton, head of advocacy and government affairs, the Trevor Project

“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.” — Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO, GLAAD

"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. The Equality Act will also ensure that when LGBTQ people go to the bank for a loan, apply for housing to keep a roof over their head, check into a hotel, go to school or try to flag down a cab, they will not be turned away or denied service unfairly just because of who they are." —Richard Burns, interim CEO, Lambda Legal

"The Equality Act is critical legislation that will help to secure civil rights for LGBTQ+ people in every state, ensuring that no one’s civil rights depend on the state or zip code they live in. The House has done its job. Now, the Senate needs to step up and do the right thing." — Rabbi Jack Moline, president, Interfaith Alliance

"In addition to expressing our support for the passage of [the Equality Act] we also write to ask for your support of ... the Student and Teacher Safety Act of 2019. ... These bills, the Equality Act and the Student and Teacher Safety Act, are needed especially now when the Trump Administration promotes anti-LGBT discrimination and research affirms increases in tension and anxieties in both schools and communities throughout the country." — David J. Johns, executive director, National Black Justice Coalition

“America is beyond ready to enshrine LGBTQ equality in public life and now the U.S. Senate must step up!” — Annise Parker, president and CEO, LGBTQ Victory Institute

“Today’s historic passage of the Equality Act is a tremendous step towards achieving full and lived equality for transgender people.” —Andy Marra, executive director, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

“No matter what this administration throws at us, we know that if we speak loud enough, if we fight hard enough, we can bend the arc of history toward justice and equality for all.” — Tom Perez, chair, Democratic National Committee

This is breaking news and we will be updating here...

RELATED: Click here to listen to Zach Stafford talk about The Equality Act's shaky path forward—and what happens if it fails—on The Advocate's weekly news podcast, The Ten

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