House approves landmark legislation to protect LGBTQ Americans
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 236 – 173, passed landmark legislation today to end discrimination against LGBTQ Americans.
“This is a significant moment in our nation’s history, and a significant step toward finally providing LGBTQ Americans the protections they deserve,” said U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), a cosponsor of the legislation, said immediately after its passage. “No one should be fired from a job, or denied a place to live, because of who they are or who they love. This bill will bar such discriminatory practices across the country and ensure LGBTQ Americans are treated fairly and equally no matter where they reside.”
The legislation, known as the Equality Act, amends several existing civil rights laws – including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Jury Selection and Services Act – to explicitly include “sexual orientation and gender identity” as protected characteristics.
The legislation also amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination in public spaces and services on the basis of sex. And it updates the public spaces and services covered under the current law to include: retail stores, banks and legal services, and transportation services.
As a founding member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, DeGette has worked closely with her colleagues for several years to help draft and secure passage of the bill the House approved today.
“It's a fundamental precept of our beautiful country that we have equality for all, but sadly in this nation we have not had equality for every person,” DeGette said on the House floor prior to the vote. “This is wrong, this is un-American, and today's bill – the Equality Act – rights this wrong.”
The nation’s current civil rights laws provide protection to people on the basis of race, color, national origin, and in most cases, sex, disability, and religion. But federal law does not ensure consistent non-discrimination protections for people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The measure approved by the House, which now heads to the Senate, would amend the nation’s civil rights law to provide LGBTQ Americans the same full anti-discrimination protections under the law – not just in the workplace, but also in education, housing, credit, jury service and public accommodation.
You can watch video of DeGette’s remarks on the House floor prior to the vote here.