A demonstrator holds a rainbow flag up to the fence surrounding the White House in Washington, DC during the National Equality March for LGBT rights in October 2009. Photo: Tony Webster, Via Wikimedia Commons, CC 4.0
The Biden administration has issued a statement in support of the Equality Act, landmark legislation that would establish LGBTQ civil rights protections in federal law.
The measure will reportedly be voted on in the House this week. With Democrats in the majority, it is expected to easily pass.
The Equality Act is facing an obstacle in the Senate as Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) refused to co-sponsor the bill and won’t say why. She has previously co-sponsored it but is upset that the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, endorsed her Democratic challenger in the last election.
Collins is seen as a moderate Republican, and the bill will need some Republican support to pass in the Senate. Given her past history of general support for LGBTQ rights, losing Collins’s vote could spell trouble for the game-changing LGBTQ bill unless Democrats are willing to finally end the filibuster.
“Unfortunately the commitments that were made to me were not [given] last year,” she told the Washington Blade, presumably referring to the kerfuffle with her endorsement.
Collins is also voting against President Joe Biden’s nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, in part because Tanden once called Collins “the worst.”
“I’m a strong believer in LGBTQ rights,” she concluded before she got on an elevator.
Signing the Equality Act into law was a key promise made by the Biden/Harris campaign to LGBTQ voters, and the White House has said that Biden intends to keep that promise. Before the House votes on the measure, the White House reiterated its support in a statement emailed to the press this afternoon.
The Administration strongly supports House passage of H.R. 5, the Equality Act, which would amend existing Federal civil rights laws to expressly include non-discrimination protection on the basis of sex, including gender identity and sexual orientation.
Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) individuals often continue to face discrimination, harassment, and violence at work, at school, and in public accommodations. H.R. 5 would amend existing Federal civil rights laws to expressly include non-discrimination protection on the basis of sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), providing security and equality to LGBTQ+ Americans in accessing housing, employment, education, public accommodations, healthcare and other federally funded services, credit, and more. The Supreme Court has already ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County, No. 17-1618, 590 U.S. (2020), that employees are protected from discrimination on the basis of sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Equality Act confirms the implications of Bostock for other discrimination laws, consistent with the President’s Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation, issued January 20, 2021, and further builds on Bostock, thereby securing such protections once and for all for LGBTQ+ Americans across Federal civil rights laws. Women also currently lack protection against sex discrimination in public accommodations and federally funded programs; the Equality Act would fill that gap in the law as well.