WASHINGTON – The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on Friday passed legislation that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The measure passed 236-173.
All Democrats voted yes as did eight Republicans.
The Equality Act of 2019 amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide members of the LGBTQ community the same protections that law provides to members of racial and religious minority groups.
The legislation, according to its text, “prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system.”
It “prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.”
Twenty-eight states do not have laws that prohibit discrimination on basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In those states, members of the LGBTQ community can be fired from their jobs or denied access to certain public accommodations based on their identity.
Opponents of the legislation have called it the “Inequality Act.”
They say it violates religious freedom of conscience, that it would hurt women in sports by forcing them to compete with biological males who identify as female, and that allowing biological males who identify as female to use public restrooms could present safety issues.
The legislation is considered unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.
The White House has said it opposes the legislation in its current form.