WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 25: Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks as Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) (L), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) (R) listen during a news conference ahead of the House vote on the Equality Act on Capitol Hill on February 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)

The U.S. House of Representatives passed landmark legislation late Thursday afternoon targeted at protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Within an 224-206 vote, three House Republicans joined all House Democrats in support of the Equality Act. The bill was initially introduced in 2016 and expands existing anti-discrimination statutes in federal law that pay the areas of employment, education, credit, jury service, national funding, housing, and public accommodation.

“In 2021, every American should be treated with respect and dignity,” Cicilline said in a statement earlier this month. “However, in most states, LGBTQ people can be discriminated against because of who they are, or that they love. It’s past time for that to change”

Public advocacy groups took part in a gigantic pressure campaign after the act was released on Feb. 18, bringing the legislation up for easy passage in short sequence. Those classes heralded Congress’s quick action after the laws passed on an almost party-line vote.

“Here’s the fact: trans girls are women, and shielding all girls from discrimination requires protecting women that are trans,” Ria Tabacco Mar, manager of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project, said in a statement. “As the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, we know there are many dangers to women as well as women’s sports, but we can state with confidence that trans women are not one of them. The Equality Act closes crucial gaps in our civil rights laws which leave us vulnerable to sexual harassment and discrimination. That is good for all women.”

Scott Simpson is the public advocacy manager for Muslim women, a civil rights group that works to combat various kinds of bigotry via litigation and public advocacy.

“LGBTQ Muslims and all LGBTQ men and women deserve to be protected from discrimination in all of its forms. The Equality Act is vital legislation that will update our civil rights legislation and strengthen protections for individuals of all backgrounds. Under this needed upgrade of civil rights protections, all of communities, such as most of American Muslims, will be protected from discrimination by retail shops, airlines and much more. The Senate now has to pass this needed upgrade to our civil rights laws. Nobody in the USA today should confront discrimination because of who they are.”

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi credited the broad coalition of civil society groups with the bill’s passing in remarks on Thursday.

“For many, it is the simplest thing on earth,” she explained during a press conference prior to the roll call vote. “For many others, it took a level of guts and a, shall we say, fortitude to proceed. But all of them very important. As we do our inside maneuvering to get as many votes as you can, ideally as bipartisan as possible, the exterior mobilization, so essential to bring a drum to really have a drumbeat across America, for freedom, for liberty and justice for everyone.”

Pelosi also addressed the requirement for the Equality Act throughout her floor speech in support of the law:

It requires a momentous step towards full equality that brings our nation closer to the founding promise of liberty and justice for all, enshrined in the Preamble of our Constitution by our Founders in their great wisdom, also within our pledge to the flag.

And it’s regrettably necessary. I wish it weren’t. Sometimes I just wonder why this is, however, it’s sadly necessary because many members of the federal LGBTQ community reside in nations where, though they have the right to wed, they don’t have any state-level non-discrimination protections in other areas of life. In over 20 nations, Mr. Speaker, LGBTQ Americans do not have specific protections against being denied housing because of their sexual orientation or gender equality, and more than 30 states lack protections regarding access to schooling. And almost 40 countries lack protections concerning jury service.

The Equality Act has passed the House earlier –only to be serially stalled out in the Senate. However, with Democrats in control of the upper chamber for first time since 2012, and with President Joe Biden too reassuring, Pelosi said she expects the bill to finally become the law of their property.

In 2019, the Equality Act became something of a cultural touchstone after country-pop songstress Taylor Swift tweeted in support of the long-promised legislation–although at the exact same time accusing self-professedly pro-gay rights then-president Donald Trump for his hypocrisy. As a candidate, Trump often said he was a buddy to the LGBTQ community, but his administration waged countless conflicts in the courts and through the administrative state to deny LGBTQ Americans various legal and rights recognitions.

Swift, who’s currently busy with different legal struggles of her own from the realm of intellectual property law, again tweeted out her aid to the Equality Act following the House moved the legislation ahead on Thursday.

That the evermore performer wrote. “Fingers crossed and praying that the Senate will see trans and lgbtq rights as fundamental human rights. “
“And, once again, that the Equality Act now goes to the U.S. Senate. We trust and hope this year, it will eventually get the hearing from the Senate it so richly deserves. After years of dismissing this important laws, the Senate should take care of business and pass the Equality Act.”

Since the introduction of the first Equality Act in 1974 — almost fifty years past — LGBTQ recommends and our supporters in Congress have been struggling to win explicit protections for LGBTQ people in federal nondiscrimination legislation. The time has come to reevaluate those protections: 47 years is long enough to await security of our basic rights as citizens. LGBTQ people throughout the nation still stay vulnerable to discrimination everyday as a result of shortage of comprehensive federal protections, as evidenced by the over 5,000 requests for help Lambda Legal receives on it Legal Help Desk every year. The Equality Act not just fills in these gaps, but also brings our civil rights laws into the 21st century by expanding protection against discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, colour, national origin, and faith to areas that are not currently covered by our civil rights laws, to institutions like retail shops, transport services such as taxis and Ubers, and support providers like accountants. Today, the House required that significant step. It is now time, in fact way past time, for the Senate to do the same.

Aside from historical LGBTQ protections, the action also amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add protections against discrimination in public places and solutions on the grounds of sex, race, colour, national origin, and faith where those protections do not already exists.

It is past time for our civil rights legislation to be updated to say that this type of discrimination is unlawful. We applaud today’s House vote on the Equality Act and urge the Senate to progress this bill. This is all about racial justice, that is about sex justice, this really is all about trans justice. The Equality Act is all of us.”

Especially, seven GOP members of the House voted for the Equality Act as it was last introduced, including Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.). The Upstate New York-based Republican backtracked from that vote, howeverdid not support the bill this time around.

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