The Equality Act Passes in the House

It is the first time the LGBTQ civil rights legislation has passed through a chamber of Congress.

The U.S. House of Representatives made history today, passing the Equality Act, which would add LGBTQ protections to existing federal civil rights law.

In a 236-173 vote, after an hour and a half of debate, the House became the first chamber of Congress to approve such legislation, which would amend the Civil Rights Act or 1964 and the Fair Housing Act.

228 Democrats voted in favor of the Equality Act, with seven not voting. They were joined by eight Republicans voting for the bill. Another 173 Republicans voted against it, with 16 GOP members of the House not voting.

If the bill becomes law, it will ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, education, federal programs, and credit.

equality act
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) (3rd R) greets Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) (L) during a rally and news conference with Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin (2nd R) and other leaders from LGBTQ advocacy organizations before the House votes on the Equality Act May 17, 2019 in Washington, DC.

The legislation faces a harder path to success in the Republican-controlled Senate, and President Trump has already signaled he’s against it, a spokesperson claiming it would “threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”

“Fifty years after the LBGTQ Americans took to the streets outside of New York’s Stonewall Inn to fight against harassment and hate, we take pride in the progress we have forged together,” Pelosi said on the House floor, wearing a rainbow wristband.

“Our Founders, in their great wisdom, wrote in our beautiful preamble…of the blessings of liberty, which were to be the birthright of all Americans. To bring our nation closer to the founding promise of liberty and justice for all, we, today, pass the Equality Act and finally, fully end discrimination against LGBTQ Americans.”

“Today’s vote marks a proud triumph for the liberty of transgender people nationwide. Transgender people have been denied our freedom for generations, trapped by the ignorance, fear, and violence that marks too many of our lives,” Mara Keisling (pictured above), executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement. “Under Speaker Pelosi and Rep. Cicilline’s leadership, the House has today set the groundwork for a future in which transgender people are free to prosper and thrive alongside their fellow Americans.”

“But we have not come this far to only come this far. Leader McConnell must bring this bill to the Senate floor for a vote. Denying transgender people their most basic rights would be nothing short of a moral crime, one that would stain this Senate for years. Now is not the time for brinkmanship, partisanship, or cowardice. Now is the time Senators must fulfill their duty to uphold the rights of all people in their states and serve the interests of the nation over the interests of party.”

LGBTQ advocates celebrated the news on Twitter, and called for the Senate to follow the House’s example and grant the community equal rights.

Watch the full House debate and vote in the video below.

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