On February 25, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would extend civil rights protections for the LGBTQ community. The legislation passed 224 to 206 along party lines. Despite passage by the House, some remain skeptical of the bill’s ability to pass scrutiny from the Senate.
The House-adopted legislation – dubbed “The Equality Act” – has been in the making for years. It would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, “and for other purposes.” The stated purpose of the Act is to expand, clarify, and create greater consistency within the existing Federal statutes prohibiting discrimination. The Act would ultimately ensure protections in consumer services, such as public accommodations, education, housing, credit, jury service, and other day to day life.
To achieve these goals, the Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by expanding the term “sex” to include “sexual orientation and gender identity.” The Act has been a controversial topic since its inception, but has gained steam since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County last June, wherein the Court found that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity constituted discrimination on the basis of sex under Title VII.
Despite the foregoing, the bill still faces an uphill battle in the Senate and requires some Republican support to pass. President Biden encouraged Congress to pass the bill, declaring it a “critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality.”