WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR MEMBERS OF THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY?
On the 25th of February 2021, the Equality Act was passed in the House of Representatives. In order for the act to go into effect, it needs to be passed in the Senate. This piece of legislation was passed in the House in 2019 but was blocked in the Republican-controlled Senate at the time. This year, however, Democrats control the House, Senate, and The White House, giving members of the LGBTQ+ community hope that this time when the legislation goes to the Senate, it will be passed.
The passing of the Equality Act would be a landmark victory for members of the LGBTQ+ community. The act would amend existing civil rights laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to include gender identity and sexual orientation as protected characteristics. Before the passing of this bill, federal law didn’t exclusively protect members of the LGBTQ+ community from being discriminated against in the workplace, housing markets, etc. If the Equality Act gets passed in the Senate, members of the LGBTQ+ community will be able to receive the same protections under federal law as those that the existing Civil Rights laws already protect.
The Equality Act was widely supported amongst all Democrats in the House of Representatives, but only three Republicans voted to pass this piece of legislation. Republicans are said to be hesitant about passing this landmark piece of legislation because of some of the religious views that a lot of members of their party hold. One Republican member of the house, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, disagrees with passing the bill so strongly that she went as far as to put up an anti-transgender sign outside of her office, in which the lawmaker across the hall from her has a child that is transgender. In response to this crude act, Illinois Rep. Marie Newman was quick to put up a transgender pride flag to show support for her child and the rest of the transgender community.
The passing of the Equality Act in the U.S. Senate would be a landmark victory for members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. Members of the LGBTQ+ community would be able to have the security of knowing that the federal government now bans discrimination of any kind in regards to sexual orientation or gender identity.