It looks like the Equality Act is getting ready to kick up its momentum. But will one high profile Republican slow it back down?
The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on the Equality Act next week, according to the Washington Blade. If passed, the legislation would expand LGBTQ civil rights and protections. This would happen by specifying that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. That would then protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, education, housing, jury service, credit, and more. Plus, the Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex and LGBTQ status in public accommodations and federal programs.
The bill will be introduced to the House by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, as Yahoo News reports. Hoyer shared that the bill would be brought to the House through a “Dear Colleague” letter on Tuesday, February 16.
“Other legislation coming to the floor next week are two bills that passed through the House last Congress: a wilderness package and the Equality Act, which will end legal discrimination against LGBTQ Americans,” Hoyer wrote.
That said, there is some strong opposition to the bill. Christian-based rhetoric against the Equality Act claims that the legislation would encroach on religious freedom rights. This is an argument that Senator Mitt Romney of Utah agrees with.
“Sen. Romney believes that strong religious liberty protections are essential to any legislation on this issue, and since those provisions are absent from this particular bill, he is not able to support it,” said Arielle Mueller, a Romney spokesperson told the Washington Blade through an email.
Romney isn’t the only Congressman to express opposition to the Equality Act. Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia said in 2019 that he was “not convinced” of the Equality Act being properly planned out.
“I am not convinced that the Equality Act as written provides sufficient guidelines to the local officials who will be responsible for implementing it, particularly with respect to students transitioning between genders in public schools,” he said in a statement at the time.
If passed, the Equality Act would make it more difficult for future court decisions, or presidents, to revoke the before mentioned protections. But, it still needs to pass in both the House and the Senate.