WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Several U.S. Representatives from Virginia voted in favor of the Equality Act on Friday.
The Equality Act ensures that the same protections, already extended to other protected classes, are equally available to LGBTQ Americans.
The Equality Act would amend existing civil rights law — including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Jury Selection and Services Act, and several laws regarding employment with the federal government — to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics.
The legislation would also amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination in public spaces and services and federally funded programs on the basis of sex.
Congress members Elaine Luria, Bobby Scott, and A. Donald McEachin all voted in favor of the act. The House passed the act in a vote of 236 to 173.
“It’s 2019 – long past time for America’s civil rights laws to protect the LGBTQ community,” Congresswoman Luria said. “Today’s House vote means we’re a step closer to a point where Americans aren’t denied basic protections because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I am proud to stand with the LGBTQ community today and every day.”
View the full bill below:
“Since my days in the Virginia General Assembly, I have fought for legislation that would end discrimination against LGBTQ Americans. Building on that work, I proudly voted for the Equality Act,” said Congressman A. Donald McEachin. “No one should be mistreated or denied access to housing, credit, education, or other essential services because of who they love. I will never stop fighting until all Americans enjoy full equality.”
The chief sponsors of the bipartisan House legislation are U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).
Congressman Bobby Scott released the following statement about the Equality bill:
"Today is a historic day for the LGBTQ community. As Chairman, I was proud to consider this important civil rights legislation in the Education and Labor Committee. Today I am proud to stand with my House colleagues as we pass the Equality Act to ensure that LGBTQ Americans can live free from discrimination. The LGBTQ community has made many strides in the last few years, including marriage equality and the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. However, many legal hurdles still remain. Only a handful of states have explicit laws barring discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations, and even fewer have protections for gender identity.
The Equality Act closes these gaps in civil rights law and also ensures that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) cannot be used as a free pass to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. The RFRA was originally enacted as a safeguard for religious freedom but has recently been used as a sword to cut down the civil rights of LGBTQ people and other individuals.
Passage of this bill is long overdue, and I hope our Senate colleagues follow our lead and affirm that all Americans are equally protected from discrimination under the law.”