One hundred and eighteen days. That is how long it has been since there has been any type of movement on the Equality Act in the United States Senate. Since that time the bill has been stuck in the Senate Judiciary Committee with no signs of it ever making its way to the floor for a vote.
The Equality Act, according to the language in the bill, “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. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.”
When Joe Biden was elected as the 46th President of the United States and the Democrats barely held to the majority in the House of Representatives as well as winning a razor-thin majority in the Senate, many of us in the LGBTQ community dared to hope that maybe the Equality Act would finally pass after it had languished for two years (the first time the bill was introduced) in limbo. Once again, the House passed the Equality Act bill by a margin of 18 votes. Yet, when it made its way to the Senate, there seemed to be no hope for the bill to even get a chance to be voted on.
The explanation as to why is complicated. Thanks to the filibuster rule, Senate Democrats would have to all 50 of their caucus plus 10 Republican Senators, and as we all have learned, there is hardly any chance for that.
The only other way for the Equality Act to pass is to get rid of the filibuster and there are two Democratic Senators that are against this: Joe Manchin (D- WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D- AZ). Both Manchin and Sinema have written opinion pieces for The Washington Post stating their opposition to ending the filibuster.
Manchin stated in his op-ed:
The time has come to end these political games, and to usher in a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.
Sinema wrote in hers:
…bipartisan policies that stand the test of time could help heal our country’s divisions and strengthen Americans’ confidence that our government is working for all of us and is worthy of all of us.
Where is this bipartisanship both Senators talk about in their respective editorials?
While we wait for “bipartisanship,” the LGBTQ citizens of the United States are still subject to hate crimes, fired from jobs in states that have no protections for their LGBTQ residents, and evicted from homes. Not to mention the many homophobic and transphobic laws that states are pushing through.
Do we not deserve to be protected as well? Or are we going to forever accept the scraps that we are given and remain second-class citizens?
It is time to put pressure on not only Senators Manchin and Sinema, but Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer. Contact them on Twitter: Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin), Sinema (@SenatorSinema), and Schumer (@SenSchumer). Call the Capitol switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask to speak to one or all three of these senators. Let them know that it is past time to get the Equality Act passed and the only way it will pass is if the filibuster is abolished.
Writer’s Note: This is the opinion of one contributing writer and may not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors