Equality Act Passes in House with Strong Bipartisan Support

Barry Nelson

North Dakota Human Rights Coalition said they applaud  the U.S. House of Representatives quick passage of the Equality Act, a landmark federal law that would protect LGBTQ Americans in virtually all areas of daily life. 

The bill, passed with a 224-206 bipartisan vote, would amend existing civil rights laws to explicitly ban LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit, jury service and other areas, and explicitly extend sex discrimination protections to public accommodations and federally-funded programs.

Supporters of LGBTQ rights on Oct. 8, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

A Senate companion bill, S.393, was introduced on Tuesday by Sen. Jeff Merkley and 48 cosponsors.

Board co-chair, Sean Coffman said “This strong bipartisan support of nondiscrimination protections is yet another sign that America is ready for comprehensive LGBTQ protections,” Said Barry Nelson, Organizer: “We are one step closer to getting this important law to the desk of President Biden, who pledged to sign the Equality Act into law during his first 100 days.”  

In this April 19, 2019 file photo, a gay pride rainbow flag flies along with the U.S. flag in front of the Asbury United Methodist Church in Prairie Village, Kan. Conservative leaders within the United Methodist Church have unveiled plans to form a new denomination, the Global Methodist Church, with a doctrine that does not recognize same-sex marriage. The move could hasten the long-expected breakup of the UMC, America’s largest mainline Protestant denomination, over differing approaches to LGBTQ inclusion.

LGBTQ people continue to face discrimination in their daily lives. A recent study found one in three LGBTQ Americans facing discrimination in the previous year, including three in five transgender Americans. Currently, half of LGBTQ people live in the 29 states that still lack comprehensive statewide laws, while opponents of equality continue to file discriminatory legislation aimed at eroding existing protections for LGBTQ people and their families.

LGBTQ supporters walk in the 2019 Pride Walk in Niceville.

The Equality Act would ensure that all LGBTQ Americans can live, work, and access public spaces free from discrimination, no matter what state they call home. It has broad and deep support across lines of political party, faith traditions, and geography, with 83 percent of Americans saying they favor LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, including 68 percent of Republicans and a majority in every state in the country.

“Americans understand freedom to mean everyone should be able to live, work, and play without fear of discrimination,” said coalition co-chair Richard Rockefeller. “It’s time for our Senators to join the American people on the right side of history.”

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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