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article imageLandmark LGBTQ rights bill faces fierce opposition in Senate

By Karen Graham     Feb 25, 2021 in Politics
Washington - The Democratic-led US House passed a bill Thursday that would enshrine LGBTQ protections in the nation's labor and civil rights laws, a top priority of President Joe Biden's, though the legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
The House of Representatives voted 224 to 206 to pass the legislation largely along party lines. All Democrats and three Republicans voted in favor of the bill, re[ports CNBC News.
The Equality Act is an LGBTQ rights bill that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in numerous arenas, including employment, housing, education, public accommodations, credit, and jury service.
“The time has come to extend the blessings of liberty and equality to all Americans, regardless of who they are or who they love,” Representative David Cicilline, D-R.I., who introduced the bill, said on the House floor.
The Equality Act amends the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. The 1964 act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Provisions of this civil rights act forbade discrimination on the basis of sex, as well as, race in hiring, promoting, and firing.
Uphill battle in the Senate
Representative Cicilline has introduced his bill every year since 2015, and it wasn't until 2019 that it finally passed in the House with a 236-173 vote, that included eight Republicans. But the bill failed to get a hearing in the GOP-dominated Senate, according to NBC News.
The legislation now moves to the Senate where it faces a real uphill battle. The bill will require at least 10 Republican votes to avoid a Senate filibuster and move the bill to a vote. As of today, no Senate Republicans have signed on to support the legislation.
Opponents of the Equality Act claim it impinges on First Amendment rights, particularly free speech and religious liberty. The conservative think tank, Heritage Group warned on its website that the Equality Act would “force employers and workers to conform to new sexual norms or else lose their businesses and jobs.”
The foundation also predicted the act’s protections for the trans community would force doctors to act “against their best medical judgment and provide transition-affirming therapies” and would fuel discrimination against cisgender women athletes.
For readers who have never heard the word "cisgender" - It has earned its place in the dictionary. The word, apparently in use since at least 1994, describes a person whose gender identity corresponds to their sex at birth — such as a girl who continues to identify as female.
President Biden hailed the bill's passage in the House, saying it is “a critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality and freedom for all.”
“Full equality has been denied to LGBTQ+ Americans and their families for far too long,” he said in a statement. “The Equality Act provides long-overdue federal civil rights protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity ... codifying the courage and resilience of the LGBTQ+ movement into enduring law.”
More about LGBTQ rights bill, Passed in house, GOP opposition, federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, Politics
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