House Passes LGBTQ Civil Rights Bill in Historic Vote

Screenshot: CSPAN (Twitter)

The House of Representatives passed a sweeping LGBTQ protection bill on Friday, thanks to support from most congressional Democrats and nearly total opposition from House Republicans.

The bill, officially H.R. 5 or the “Equality Act,” seeks to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes” and would protect members of the LGBTQ community when applying for things like jobs, housing loans, and credit.

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Speaking before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—wearing a rainbow wristband—criticized those who characterized the bill as merely “tolerant,” saying, “This is not about tolerance to me. This is about respect.”

The bill passed with 228 Democrats voting in favor, and 173 Republicans voting against. Only eight Republicans members—less than five percent of the GOP caucus—crossed the aisle to help the measure pass. Twenty-three members, including seven Democrats and 16 Republicans, didn’t vote on the legislation, although all seven non-voting Democrats co-sponsored the bill.

Republicans have argued the bill, if made into law, would infringe upon religious freedoms which allow people to discriminate against the LGBTQ community by falling back on their personal faith. “It would allow the government to force its rigid and unyielding fist inside the church,” Rep. Ross Spano told BuzzFeed. “It would deliver a crushing blow to the base of the tree of religious liberty.”

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The eight Republicans who voted to pass the bill were: Susan Brooks, Mario Diaz-Balart, Brian Fitzpatrick, Will Hurd, John Katko, Tom Reed, Elise Stefanik, and Greg Walden.

Despite its victory in the House, the bill has little likelihood of actually making into law during this session. The Republican-controlled Senate will almost certainly move to quash the measure, and even if it were to pass there, a White House advisor has confirmed that President Donald Trump won’t sign.

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“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all,” an unnamed senior administration official told the LGBTQ-focused Washington Blade this week. “However, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”

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Rafi Schwartz

Senior writer. When in doubt he'll have the soup.