May 17, 2019

The House just passed a sweeping LGBTQ rights bill

The US House of Representatives on Friday passed the Equality Act, a bill that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, the workplace, public accommodations, and other settings.

The bill, first introduced in 2015, would also expand public accommodations protections to prohibit discrimination based on sex, and strengthen other existing protections in public accommodations — by, for instance, ensuring that retail stores and banks are covered.

The bill would address a remaining gap in civil rights laws: While there are already federal laws protecting people from discrimination based on race, religion, sex, and disability, there are no such federal laws explicitly protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination.

The Democratic-controlled House passed the legislation, but it faces tough odds in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans who generally oppose expanding LGBTQ rights — making the bill very unlikely to become law.

Still, advocates are celebrating the moment because it’s the first time the legislation has received a full vote from either chamber of Congress. For them, it’s a sign of the progress LGBTQ rights have seen over the years, from greater social acceptance of LGBTQ people to the victory for marriage equality.

Most states don’t explicitly ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination

Under federal and most states’ laws, LGBTQ people aren’t explicitly protected from discrimination in the workplace, housing, or public accommodations (like restaurants, hotels, and other places that serve the public).

So someone can be fired from a job, evicted from a home, or kicked out of a business just because an employer, landlord, or business owner doesn’t approve of the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Read more on