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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 NadlerHouse to vote on bill to ensure citizenship for children of overseas service members As impeachment goes public, forget 'conventional wisdom' What this 'impeachment' is really about — and it's not the Constitution 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 LewisDemocrats ramp up oversight efforts over 'opportunity zone' incentive The 13 House Democrats who back Kavanaugh's impeachment Detroit police chief calls Tlaib facial recognization idea 'racist' 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: California AG reveals Facebook investigation | McConnell criticizes Twitter's political ad ban | Lawmakers raise concerns over Google takeover of Fitbit | Dem pushes FCC to secure 5G networks Critics fear Google's power in Fitbit deal Google to acquire Fitbit for .1 billion 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 BrooksOregon GOP Rep. Greg Walden won't seek reelection Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Pelosi: GOP retirements indicate they'll be in the minority, with Democrat in the White House MORE (Ind.), Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartBipartisan group reveals agricultural worker immigration bill GOP lawmakers offer new election security measure Trump calls on Supreme Court to strike down DACA, says deal possible MORE (Fla.), Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickHillicon Valley: Critics press feds to block Google, Fitbit deal | Twitter takes down Hamas, Hezbollah-linked accounts | TikTok looks to join online anti-terrorism effort | Apple pledges .5B to affordable housing Twitter takes down Hamas, Hezbollah-affiliated accounts after lawmaker pressure GOP lawmakers express concerns about Giuliani's work in Ukraine MORE (Pa.), Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdRetirements pose threat to cybersecurity expertise in Congress Democrats challenge election laws in battleground states Republicans, Democrats brace for first public testimony in impeachment inquiry MORE (Texas), John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoProgressive group unveils first slate of 2020 congressional endorsements Democratic lawmakers call on Judiciary Committee to advance 'revenge porn' law Katie Hill resignation reignites push for federal 'revenge porn' law MORE (N.Y.), Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedHillicon Valley: Critics press feds to block Google, Fitbit deal | Twitter takes down Hamas, Hezbollah-linked accounts | TikTok looks to join online anti-terrorism effort | Apple pledges .5B to affordable housing Twitter takes down Hamas, Hezbollah-affiliated accounts after lawmaker pressure Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg would support delaying Libra | More attorneys general join Facebook probe | Defense chief recuses from 'war cloud' contract | Senate GOP blocks two election security bills | FTC brings case against 'stalking' app developer MORE (N.Y.), Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikGOP lawmaker: Schiff should be first witness Republicans call to testify in impeachment inquiry Singer Brandi Carlile drops out of Fortune event over Kirstjen Nielsen's appearance GOP lawmakers offer new election security measure MORE (N.Y.) and Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenRetirements pose threat to cybersecurity expertise in Congress The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race The GOP should follow the example of Rep. Greg Walden 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 McConnellLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Biden not ruling out Senate voting to impeach Trump: 'It will depend on what their constituency says' Congress hunts for path out of spending stalemate MORE (R-Ky.) will bring the measurer up for a vote.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment 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.”