GLAAD RESPONDS TO HOUSE PASSAGE OF THE EQUALITY ACT

February 25, 2021

 

GLAAD, the world’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is responding to the House of Representatives vote today to pass The Equality Act, to offer comprehensive protections against discrimination for LGBTQ people across the country. The voting results were 224-206, with all House Democrats voting in favor alongside three Republicans. The vote was presided over by Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas, and Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota, both out lesbian members of Congress. 

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis responded to the vote on Twitter, and here:

“The House passage of The Equality Act is a victory for all Americans and for our country’s core values of equal treatment under law. This landmark civil rights law secures those protections for every LGBTQ person, to live without fear of discrimination. An overwhelming majority of Americans already support laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination, including Americans of all faiths. We are now calling on Senate leaders to come together to finish the work for what is right and just for all Americans. Any Senator against The Equality Act is not only complicit with LGBTQ discrimination, but grossly out of touch with the bill's widespread, bipartisan public support. It is time to move together to ensure LGBTQ people have the chance to belong, to participate and to succeed in all areas of American life.”

Additional background:

The Equality Act prohibits LGBTQ discrimination in employment, education, housing, access to credit, jury service, federal funding, and public accommodations.

LGBTQ Americans are not fully protected from discrimination in 29 states. 50% percent of all LGBTQ Americans live in the 29 states.

The Equality Act includes protections for LGBTQ individuals in public accommodations such as restaurants, senior centers, stores, places of or establishments that provide entertainment, health care facilities, shelters, government offices, youth service providers including adoption and foster care providers, and transportation.

The bill ensures the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) will not be exploited to discriminate against LGBTQ people and women. RFRA was originally established to bar legislation that would impede upon an individual’s religious faith, not to allow discrimination against other groups using religion as a smokescreen. The Equality Act would prevent religious groups and individuals from using RFRA as a defense against discrimination lawsuits. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, one of the architects and primary sponsors of RFRA, explained during today’s House vote that the Equality Act does not contradict its religious freedom protections despite claims to the contrary.

LGBTQ people are people of faith (47% consider themselves religious). And majorities of all faith groups support LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws. Those using religious belief as a reason to discriminate against LGBTQ people do not represent all people of faith.

Claims that The Equality Act would “crush religious freedom and radically reshape American society” are not supported by evidence. Similar false claims have been used unsuccessfully to argue against marriage equality. Since the Obergefell decision granting nationwide marriage equality, more than 300,000 same-sex couples have married, to zero negative consequence to straight couples or society.

Religious freedom is already enshrined in federal law and in the Bill of Rights. Also, religion is one of the protected classes in the Civil Rights Act, and discriminating against someone based on their religious beliefs is illegal under that federal law. The Equality Act would not remove any of these existing protections—it would simply add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories alongside race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

Other claims about the Equality Act harming women’s rights or girls’ access to sports are also false. There is nothing in the legislation that impedes upon the equal rights of women—in fact, the law would increase protections for women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Claims about girls’ and women’s sports are not based in fact. Leading women’s sports associations support full inclusion for trans girls and women. And a February 2021 study shows that participation in girls’ sports actually increases in states where trans girls are allowed to play with other girls.