WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. House of Representatives today passed H.R. 5, the historic Equality Act, to end discrimination against LGBTQ Americans. The bill extends the full anti-discrimination protections under federal civil rights laws to LGBTQ individuals regarding employment, education, access to credit, jury service, federal funding, housing and public accommodations.
Rep. Greg Stanton, a co-sponsor of the legislation, offered his support during debate this morning before the vote.
“We are a nation that believes all are created equal—that this truth is self-evident,” Stanton said from the House Floor. “I rise today in fervent support of the Equality Act because everyone should be treated equally no matter who they are, who they love, or how they express themselves.”
Despite significant legal progress over the past several years—including the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage—LGBTQ Americans remain vulnerable to discrimination and too often have little recourse. Half of the nation’s LGBTQ community live in states where, though they have the right to marry, they have no explicit non-discrimination protections in other areas of daily life.
Currently, only 21 states have explicit laws barring discrimination based on sexual orientation—Arizona is not one of them. In most states, a same-sex couple can get married one day and legally denied service at a restaurant, be fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartment the next.
If signed into law, H.R. 5 would change that. The bill was introduced on March 13 and passed through the Judiciary Committee, on which Stanton is a member, on May 1. It has earned the strong support of the business community including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In 2013 during Stanton’s tenure as Phoenix Mayor, the City Council passed a non-discrimination ordinance. The measure earned Phoenix a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index with special recognition for setting a standard of inclusiveness in a state without statewide non-discrimination laws. Tempe and Tucson have since joined Phoenix on the list of cities with perfect scores.
Specifically, H.R. 5 amends:
- Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide basic protections against discrimination in public accommodations by adding sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity;
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide basic protections against discrimination by recipients of federal financial assistance by adding sex, including sexual orientation, and gender identity;
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991, and the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 to make explicit protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity;
- The Fair Housing Act to make protections against housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity explicit;
- The Equal Credit Opportunity Act to make protections against credit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity explicit; and
- The Jury Selections and Services Act to make protections against discrimination in federal jury service based on sexual orientation or gender identity explicit.
The bill passed 236 to 173, earning bipartisan support.