House approves anti-LGBT discrimination Equality Act

The House on Friday for the first time approved legislation banning anti-LGBT discrimination in a 236-173 vote.

Every Democrat voted for the measure, as did eight Republicans.

The Equality Act would expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to ban discrimination in employment, housing, jury selection and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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“This legislation will provide members of LGBTQ Americans protections from being denying medical care or being fired or thrown out of their homes,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler calls Trump a 'dictator' on Senate floor Poll: Majority think Senate should call witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Susan Collins asked Justice Roberts to intervene after Nadler late-night 'cover-up' accusation MORE (D-N.Y.) said on the floor ahead of the vote.

He said the bill would expand the definition of “who is understood to be included in the Declaration of Independence.”

Rep. John LewisJohn LewisObama marks MLK Day by honoring King for his 'poetic brilliance' and 'moral clarity' The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial John Lewis to miss Martin Luther King Jr. Day event MORE (D-Ga.), a civil rights leader, applauded the legislation for continuing efforts to fight discrimination in the United States. 

“Today on this day we have an opportunity to send a message now to help end discrimination in our country and set all of our people free,” Lewis said.

The measure, spearheaded by Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Smaller companies testify against Big Tech's 'monopoly power' Living in limbo may end for Liberians in the US MORE (D-R.I.), was expected to be approved but faced opposition from conservatives, who said it would infringe upon people’s religious liberties.

Opponents argued the bill “is anything but equalizing,” in the words of Rep. Vicky HartzlerVicky Jo HartzlerGOP lawmakers express concerns about Giuliani's work in Ukraine House approves amendment to reverse transgender military ban The House-passed bills that have ended up in the Senate 'graveyard' MORE (R-Mo.).

“In fact, this bill legalizes discrimination — government imposed top-down discrimination against those with time-honored views of marriage and gender,” she said in remarks on the floor ahead of the vote.

GOP Reps. Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksThe rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2019 Hispanic Democrats endorse Latina for open Indiana seat Trump shocks, earns GOP rebukes with Dingell remarks MORE (Ind.), Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartOn The Money: Lawmakers strike spending deal | US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline | Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst over new NAFTA House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers House passes stopgap as spending talks stall MORE (Fla.), Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickDCCC to run ads tying 11 House Republicans to Trump remarks on entitlements House revives agenda after impeachment storm Former Pennsylvania Rep. Fitzpatrick dead at 56 MORE (Pa.), Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdThe Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' House Democrats launch effort to register minority voters in key districts MORE (Texas), John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoDCCC to run ads tying 11 House Republicans to Trump remarks on entitlements Bezos phone breach escalates fears over Saudi hacking House Democrats request briefings on Iranian cyber threats from DHS, FCC MORE (N.Y.), Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedTrump's Dingell insults disrupt GOP unity amid impeachment House votes to temporarily repeal Trump SALT deduction cap Trump shocks, earns GOP rebukes with Dingell remarks MORE (N.Y.), Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clash over rules White House appoints GOP House members to advise Trump's impeachment team Lawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown MORE (N.Y.) and Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges Bipartisan lawmakers call for watchdog probe into government telecom office Conservative groups aim to sink bipartisan fix to 'surprise' medical bills MORE (Ore.) all opted to vote with Democrats. 

More than 200 businesses, including Facebook, Google, Hilton and JPMorgan Chase, backed the measure. Groups opposing it included the Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council.

The Heritage Foundation alleged the bill would “force employers and workers to conform to new sexual norms,” “force hospitals and insurers to provide and pay for these therapies against any moral or medical objections” and “lead to the erasure of women.”

The bill faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is unlikely Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators MORE (R-Ky.) will bring the measurer up for a vote.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE is also unlikely to sign the bill should it make it through both chambers.

“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all," a senior administration official told NBC News. "However, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”