CHN: House Passes Bill to Strengthen LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Laws

The House on May 17 passed H.R. 5, the Equality Act, by a vote of 236-173, to strengthen federal civil rights laws for LGBTQ Americans. Eight Republicans joined 228 Democrats for the historic vote. A priority of House Democrats, the bill would provide explicit nondiscrimination protection for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service. To this end, the bill 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 prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. The Equality Act would also update the definitions of public spaces and services covered under law.

Today, a majority of states and the federal government still lack explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. According to the National Women’s Law Center, over one-third of transgender women report losing a job because of their gender identity or expression. Faith leaders joined in an interfaith prayer vigil on May 14; after the vigil, they delivered a letter supporting the Equality Act, containing more than 4,000 signatures of people of faith and clergy, to members of Congress.