House Democrats introduced legislation Wednesday to add protections for LGBTQ persons into the 1964 Civil Rights Act, checking off another promise party leaders made during the 2018 campaign.
Dubbed the Equality Act, the legislation would offer new protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation everywhere from the workforce to public spaces such as restaurants.
Wednesday’s introduction came a day after the Trump administration issued new rules prohibiting anyone who has transitioned to another gender or who shows gender dysphoria from enlisting.
“Last night, we were all sickened to see the president revive his hateful transgender service ban,” said House Speaker Nanci Pelosi. “No one with the strength and bravery to serve in the military should be turned away.”
The bill will likely pass the majority-Democrat House later this term, the first time any iteration of this legislation has reached the floor for a full vote.
On the Senate side, where the GOP has control of the chamber, sponsor Sen. Jeff Merkley said there are already 47 co-sponsors, including Republican Sen. Susan Collins.
Democrats predicted resistance from Republicans in general.
“Conservatives will do everything they can to kill this bill,” said Rep. David Cicilline, a House sponsor, who is himself openly gay. “They’ll claim religion as a basis to discriminate.”
Those arguments got a trial run Wednesday during a Judiciary Committee debate over the Violence Against Women Act, where Republicans pushed for a carve-out for religious groups that offer service to domestic abuse victims that would permit them to refuse to cater to transgender women if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, predicted the Equality Act would go even further.
“I would humbly submit that it will do more harm,” Mr. Gohmert said during that meeting. “You’re going to change sports into men’s sports and co-ed sports.”
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