The historic Equality Act cleared the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, thanks to Democratic sponsorship and support of the pro-LGBTQ+ legislation. With a vote of 224-206, only three GOP congressmen supported the bill, which will create federal protections against anti-LGBTQ+ bias in housing, education, credit, jury service, federal funding, and public accommodations.
Republican disinterest in equality legislation isn't necessarily shocking, but the fact that support for the Equality Act among GOP congressmembers dropped since 2019 — the last time the House voted on the bill (it didn't pass the GOP-controlled Senate) — is notable.
Back in 2019, the Equality Act had three Republican cosponsors, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and John Katko of New York, and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón of Puerto Rico (González-Colón couldn't actually vote on the bill since she represents a territory rather than a state). Additionally, Susan W. Brooks of Indiana, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Will Hurd of Texas, Greg Reed of Oregon, and Tom Reed and Elise Stefanik of New York voted for the 2019 iteration of the Equality Act.
Yes, in 2021, zero Republicans cosponored the legislation and only Katko, Reed, and Fitzpatrick said "yea" to the Equality Act during the final vote. Brooks, Hurd, and Walden all retired since the 2019 Equality Act vote.
Diaz-Balart of Florida, serving the Tampa area, released a statement saying the new bill did not carve out enough exemptions for anti-LGBTQ+ religious organizations and medical professionals.
“I have always fought against discrimination in all its forms, which is why I voted for this bill last Congress and outlined some severe flaws that needed to be addressed to obtain bipartisan support,” Diaz-Balart said in a statement, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times. “House Democratic leadership had ample time to make these changes, but sadly, they ignored multiple good faith efforts by my colleagues and instead doubled down on some of the most troubling issues, including sabotaging religious freedom.”
Stefanik of New York has not yet commented publicly on her rejection of the Equality Act. The Advocate has reached out to her for comment.