House

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.

{mosads}“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 Nadler (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 Lewis (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 Cicilline (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 Hartzler (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 Brooks (Ind.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Will Hurd (Texas), John Katko (N.Y.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Greg Walden (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 McConnell (R-Ky.) will bring the measurer up for a vote.

President Trump 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.”

Tags Brian Fitzpatrick David Cicilline Donald Trump Elise Stefanik Equality Act Greg Walden Jerrold Nadler John Katko John Lewis Mario Diaz-Balart Mitch McConnell Susan Brooks Tom Reed Vicky Hartzler Will Hurd

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