The House of Representatives voted 224-206 on Thursday to pass the Equality Act, which aims to expand civil rights for LGBTQ Americans and ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Building upon the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act, the Equality Act bans any discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The act has been introduced multiple times since the 1970s, and most recently passed the House in 2019 but was struck down by the then Republican-led Senate. The act will now go to the Senate for consideration. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it could fail again.
Notably, the bill also explicitly states that it overpowers the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which can allow certain groups to deny services to LGBTQ+ people on religious grounds.
The earlier form of the Equality Act was introduced in Congress back in the 1970s and has been modified throughout the decades. It most recently passed by the House in May 2019 but died in the then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s legislative graveyard.
At least 10 GOP Senators will need to be in favor of the bill to pass it with a filibuster-proof majority. In most states, LGBTQ+ people can still be fired, evicted, or denied services because of who they are or whom they love. This legislation would change that.