House Votes to Expand Legal Safeguards for LGBTQ People – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

The Democratically-ruled house passed a bill on Thursday that anchors the protection of LGBTQ people into the country’s labor and civil rights laws, a top priority for President Joe Biden, despite an uphill battle for Senate legislation.

The bill was passed on a 224-206 vote, with three Republicans voting yes alongside the Democrats.

The Equal Opportunities Act changes the existing Civil Rights Act to the effect that sexual orientation and gender identification are expressly included as protected features. Protection would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education, public housing and other areas. Supporters say the law in front of the house on Thursday is long overdue and will ensure everyone is treated equally under the law.

“The LGBT community has waited long enough,” said Rep. David Cicilline, DR.I., who is gay and is the main sponsor of the bill. “It is time to extend the blessings of freedom and equality to all Americans, regardless of who they are and who they love.”

The Republicans largely opposed the legislation. They reiterated concerns from religious groups and socially conservative people who fear the bill will force people to take action that contradicts their religious beliefs. They warned that faith-based adoption agencies trying to place children with a married mother and father could be forced to close or that private schools may have to hire staff whose conduct violates the school’s beliefs.

“That is unprecedented. It is dangerous. It’s an attack on our first freedom, the first freedom listed on the Bill of Rights, freedom of religion, “said Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La.

The House passed the equality bill in the last Congress with unanimous Democratic support and the backing of eight Republicans, but Donald Trump’s White House opposed the move and was ignored in the Senate, where 60 votes will be required to overcome procedural hurdles. Democrats are trying to revive it now that they have control of Congress and the White House, but passage in the evenly divided Senate still seems unlikely.

This time Republican Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania and John Katko, and Tom Reed from New York sided with the Democrats to vote for the bill.

The Supreme Court gave the LGBTQ community a resounding victory in a 6-3 ruling last year that the 1964 Civil Rights Act applies to LGBTQ workers when it comes to eliminating gender discrimination. Civil rights groups have encouraged Congress to pursue this decision and ensure that anti-bias protections are in place in areas such as housing, public housing, and public services in all 50 states.

Biden made his support for the equality law clear in the run-up to last year’s elections, saying it was one of his top priorities.

Democratic MP Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Penn., Said the equality bill was needed to end the “patchwork of state laws” regarding gay rights and provide “uniform nationwide protection.”

“It’s been personal since my little sister came out to me almost 40 years ago,” Scanlon said.

The debate among lawmakers on Capitol Hill is also personal. Marie Newman, D-Ill., Whose daughter is transgender, tweeted a video of her placing a transgender flag in front of her office. Her office is across from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Who was recently banned from two committees due to previous comments and tweets.

“Our neighbor, @RepMTG, has tried to block the equality law because she believes the ban on discrimination against trans-Americans is“ gross, immoral and evil. ”I thought we’d fly our transgender flag so they would see it every time can if she opens her door. “Newman tweeted.

Greene responded with a video of her own in which she posted a sign that read “There are two sexes: MALE and FEMALE. “Trust Science!”

“Our neighbor, @RepMarieNewman, wants to pass the so-called“ Equal Opportunities Act ”to destroy women’s rights and religious freedom. I thought we’d put ours up so she could look at them every time she opened her door, “Greene tweeted.

House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Pointed out the exchange to lobby for the bill on Thursday.

“It breaks my heart that it is necessary, but the fact is, and in fact we had a sad event here this morning too, which shows that we have to have respect,” said Pelosi, pausing once and sighing deeply. “Not only Respect, but pride, pride in our LGBT community. “

Gay and lesbian congressmen talked about how significant the bill is to them.

“Look, we’re not asking for anything that another American doesn’t like,” said Rep. Chris Pappas, DN.H. with time and constitution. “

Leaders of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote to lawmakers this week that they had serious concerns about the bill. They raised concerns that the bill would expand the government’s definition of public spaces, forcing church interiors and equivalent facilities to hold events contrary to their beliefs, which could result in their doors being closed to the wider community .

Republicans cited a number of consequences that they said could materialize if the law went into effect, from lifting the existing ban on using state funds for abortions to admitting transgender people to shelters and women Transgender youth for girls’ sports. Democrats compared the effort to past civil rights battles in the nation’s history.

Cicilline challenged Republicans, “I hope you will consider how your voice will be remembered for years.”

Some of the largest companies in the country are part of a coalition in support of legislation, including Apple Inc., AT&T, Chevron, and 3M Co., to name a few of the hundreds of companies that have endorsed them.

After the vote, stakeholders weighed up and the human rights campaign described the vote as “bringing us closer to ensure that everyone is treated equally under the law”. Meanwhile, the Conservative Alliance for the Defense of Freedom urged the Senate to “reject this risk bill – for the good of all Americans. “

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