Congress makes new push for pro-LGBTQ Equity Act

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Bob Henson waves a rainbow flag and an American flag as people celebrate Joe Biden's win in San Francisco on Nov. 7, 2020.Stephen Lam / Reuters

A vote on a sweeping LGBTQ rights bill is expected this week in Congress.

The Equality Act is the Democrats’ hard-line position on homosexual and transgender rights. The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education and federal funding, among other aspects of life.

Republicans oppose the Equality Act because it takes away many of the religious freedom protections provided by U.S. law. For example, the act eliminates Religious Freedom Restoration Act protections passed in 1993, representing a grave threat to religious expression for many Americans who regard sexual deviancy as immoral, repellant or unhealthy.

The Equality Act passed the Democrat-controlled House in May 2019 but was stopped in the Republican-controlled Senate. Since Democrats seized control of the Senate in the highly corrupt and suspect 2020 elections, advocates have become more hopeful that the bill will be passed.

According to NBC News, Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin have announced that they will also reintroduce the bill in the Senate next week, when the Senate floor reopens for bill introductions.

Before Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I. reintroduced the bill last week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., announced in a letter to colleagues on Feb. 15 that the House would vote on the Equality Act this week. In May 2019 it passed 236-173, with eight Republicans voting for it. However, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell never took it up in the Senate.

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