On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, which expands protections for members of the LGBTQ community.
Business Insider reports that they would be protected from discrimination in housing, applying for credit, the workplace, public accommodations and more. But it’s not without its critics, of course, who believe it would impose on religious freedoms.
“This is not only important to the LGBTQ community, it’s important for America, ending discrimination,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday during a press conference. “Our history has always been one of expanding freedom and reducing discrimination.”
The bill passed 236-173 and included support from eight Republicans, though its Democrats who’ve been vocal about the potential paradigm shift it could create for civil-rights.
“Much of the history of the United States has been about expanding the definition of who is understood to be included when the Declaration of Independence says ‘All men are created equal,’” Rep. Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, said Friday during a floor speech. “When these words were first written, that phrase did not include black and Latino men. It did not include Native Americans. It did not include women. And it certainly did not include LGBTQ individuals.”
“At this moment, we have an opportunity to continue our march toward justice,” he added. “To enshrine in our nation’s laws protections for marginalized communities to ensure that everyone can fully participate in key areas of life and to provide them recourse in the face of discrimination.”
However, there is an elephant in the room.
The GOP-controlled Senate is typically opposed to expanding LGBTQ rights, so the odds of the bill becoming law are slim. Especially since critics have pointed to their pro-life stance as justification for why it should never become law.
From Business Insider:
They said that because of language in the bill about discrimination against pregnant people and people who’ve given birth, it would prevent doctors from objecting to performing abortions for moral reasons.
Critics also said this would undermine Hyde Amendment protections that ensure that federal taxpayer dollars are not used to fund abortions.
Also of note, a senior White House official called the bill “filled with poison pills” and confirmed that Donald Trump opposes its current form.
But Vox notes that there’s still reason to celebrate:
Still, advocates are celebrating the moment because it’s the first time the legislation has received a full vote from either chamber of Congress. For them, it’s a sign of the progress LGBTQ rights have seen over the years, from greater social acceptance of LGBTQ people to the victory for marriage equality.
So in the interim, Democrats are remaining vigilant.
“Despite significant advances, LGBT people across the country remain vulnerable to discrimination on a daily basis and too often have little recourse,” Representative David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island the lead sponsor of the bill, said. “It is past time for the Equality Act to be written into law.”