by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
The LGBTQ Equality Act passed the US House of Representatives on February 25, by a vote of 224 to 206.
Every single Democrat in the House signed on to the measure as a co-sponsor. The Democrats were joined by only three Republicans: Tom Reed and John Katko of New York, and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.
Before the vote, prime sponsor David Cicilline (D-RI), said he hoped for eight Republican votes.
The legislation would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to existing US civil rights laws, and give LGBTQ persons protection in the areas of employment, housing, credit, education, and jury service.
The debate was not without drama. QAnon conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) tried to derail the vote by moving for Congress to adjourn, but she was voted down.
"We have passed it in the House before - the Equality Act, HR 5, to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said just before the vote on the bill. "This time, it will be not only passed in the House but on a path to a signing at the White House. We're very excited about that."
The measure now moves to the US Senate, where Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is the prime sponsor. There the bill faces an uncertain future.
When the Equality Act was passed in the House in 2019, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell blocked it from even getting a hearing. Now, the Senate is controlled by Democrats, but only by the narrowest margin. Sixty votes would be required to bring the bill to the Senate floor for debate.
The single Republican senator who co-sponsored the 2019 version - Susan Collins of Maine - has hinted she will not support the bill this year. Two of the Democrats who opposed the measure in 2019 are still serving in the Senate: Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Tester (D-MT).
Log Cabin Republicans humiliate themselves (yet again)
While almost all LGBTQ political groups endorsed the Equality Act, the Log Cabin Republicans managed to find an excuse to oppose it.
"Gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of society would effectively become an 'extinct species' under this bill. That's because it would enshrine the gender identity agenda that is counter to gay rights," the Republican group said in a statement.
"For the gender-identity- and trans-obsessed crowd, how you were born can now be 'changed,' and everything regarding sex and gender is simply a 'choice.'"
For many observers, Log Cabin's twists and turns are merely the latest episode in the group's long history of accommodating their party's sad record of homo- and transphobia.
New hate coalition
Meanwhile, openly anti-LGBTQ organizations formed a coalition to block the Equality Act and promote anti-LGBTQ laws at the state level.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Policy Alliance, and Heritage Foundation are spearheading a new national hate group, the Promise to America's Children coalition.
According to the new group's website, it is fighting "a culture - and sadly, a government - around us seek to sexualize our children for the sake of a political agenda."
LGBTQ rights groups say this new coalition is an attempt to roll back the rights of LGBTQ Americans, and particularly the Transgender community. Their opposition to the Equality Act parallels a push for state legislation to limit LGBTQ rights.
"The same few sources have been responsible for peddling anti-LGBTQ legislation for many years, and this legislation is simply the latest iteration of their losing political fight against equality," Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel for the HRC said.
"While extremist groups push copycat bills down to states, these state legislators should understand that their constituents - including a large majority of Republicans - believe transgender people should be allowed to live freely and openly," Oakley added.
"The only thing these bills do is harm kids who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence."