Equality Act approved by House committee, without single Republican vote

Chairman Jerry Nadler of the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on May 2, 2019.

The Equality Act has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee.

The bill, which would outlaw anti-LGBT discrimination across the US, was signed off by the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary on Wednesday (May 1) by a vote of 22-10, with all Democratic members voting in favour, and all Republicans voting against.

Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner also sought to stall the approval of the bill by ordering a clerk to read it out in full, in a tactic slammed as “petty” and “childish.”

The firm Republican opposition is a bad sign for the future of the bill, which is tipped for approval by the Democrat-controlled House, but is unlikely to pass through the Republican-controlled Senate without the backing of GOP Senators.

Lack of Republican votes ‘very disappointing’

The bill’s sponsor Rep. David Cicilline, one of just eight out LGBT+ lawmakers in the House, said: “Fairness and equality are core American values.

“This bill affirms those values and ensures members of the LGBTQ community can live their lives free from the fear of legal discrimination of any kind.

Protesters stand in support of a introduction of the Equality Act, a comprehensive LGBTQ non-discrimination bill at the US Capitol on April 01, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Protesters stand in support of a introduction of the Equality Act, a comprehensive LGBTQ non-discrimination bill at the US Capitol on April 01, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty)

“Equal treatment under the law is a founding principle of America and it’s absurd that, in 2019, members of the LGBTQ community can be fired from their jobs, denied service in a restaurant or get thrown out of their apartment because of their sexual orientation or gender identify.

“It’s very disappointing that, in 2019, most of my Republican colleagues are standing on the wrong side of history. This bill to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community is long overdue.”

Equality Act will go before full House in May

House majority leader Steny Hoyer has said he will bring the bill to a vote before the full House of Representatives later in May.

He said: “LGBT Americans and their families deserve to be protected against all forms of discrimination, no matter where they live.

“This legislation, which I am proud to cosponsor, would ban discrimination against LGBT people in housing, employment, education, jury service, credit and financing, and public accommodations.

“It is shameful that such discrimination is still legal in many parts of our country, and House Democrats are committed to securing full equality for LGBT Americans.”

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said: “It is time that the federal government recognizes that discrimination in any form is wrong, and that we should move forward with these common sense protections that simply build on existing statutes.

“I understand there are concerns about how this bill would interact with individual religious freedom.

“One of the reasons the Equality Act amends the Civil Rights Act and other civil rights laws is to maintain the same critical balance between the government’s compelling interest in eradicating discrimination and in supporting religious liberty that has been struck in our nation’s civil rights laws, and upheld by the courts, for more than five decades.”