The House Just Passed a Sweeping LGBTQ Protections Bill and Conservatives Are Freaking Out

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The House of Representatives passed a historic bill on Friday expanding federal civil rights protections to LGBTQ people.

The Equality Act, also known as H.R. 5, passed 236-173 with eight Republicans breaking with their party to vote 'yes.'


Using the 1964 Civil Rights Act as a basis, H.R. 5 bans discrimination in housing, finances, employment, schools, and public places on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. If signed into law, H.R. 5 would classify gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes, just like race and religion.

"Today is a historic, monumental day in Congress," House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) tweeted after the vote. "For the first time, we have passed comprehensive legislation that would extend federal civil rights protections to the LGBT community."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also lauded the bill, saying in a floor speech: "No one should lose their job because of who they are or who they love."

It may come as no surprise, then, that many on the right vehemently oppose the legislation - and their excuses are really something.

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) called the law "counterproductive" because "Americans are becoming more tolerant every day." H.R. 5 "unnecessarily pits communities against each other and divides our nation when patience and understanding are so sorely needed," Lee wrote on Twitter.

Really, Senator?

Other conservatives said that the law undermines religious liberty and women's freedom (nevermind the abortion bans Republicans are enacting across the country).

“That’s my problem — not the intent,” said Representative Doug Collins (R-GA). “It’s about how you go about it.”

“It would allow the government to force its rigid and unyielding fist inside the church,” said Florida Republican Congressman Ross Spano, who worries that the proposed law would prohibit business owners from being able to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. "It would deliver a crushing blow to the base of the tree of religious liberty.”

The Equality Act's protections for gender identity have some Republicans claiming that children would be able to have sex reassignment surgery whenever they want and that men would dress up as women just... because.

“A vote for this bill is a vote against women,” said Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO).

H.R. 5 faces a steep uphill climb if it hopes to become the law of the land. President Donald Trump reportedly opposes the bill.

“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all," a senior administration official said in an email to The Washington Blade on Monday. "However, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights."

This is a total 180 from Trump's stance when he ran for president in 2000 - back then, he supported federal civil rights protections for LGBTQ people.

“I like the idea of amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include a ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation,” Trump said in an interview with The Advocate. “It would be simple. It would be straightforward. We don’t need to rewrite the laws currently on the books, although I do think we need to address hate-crimes legislation. But amending the Civil Rights Act would grant the same protection to gay people that we give to other Americans — it’s only fair.”

On Tuesday, Former Vice President Joe Biden weighed in, slamming Trump for his opposition.

"Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect under the law—regardless of who they are or who they love," he said. "Now is not the time to back down. We must stand up to this Administration's intolerance and ensure America lives up to our founding ideals."

The GOP-controlled Senate is almost certain to never let it see the light of day.

“At the moment,” a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told BuzzFeed News on Thursday, “I have no scheduling announcements regarding Senate action.”

Despite Republican intransigence, the Equality Act has enormous support nationwide. Polling conducted after the bill was first introduced in 2015 found that 70 percent of Americans favor legislation similar or identical to H.R. 5.

Hillary Clinton tweeted on Friday:

"More than 200 major corporations, 500 statewide and local organizations, a bipartisan consensus in Congress, and 70% of Americans support legislation protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. I am proud to stand with them and the other to support the ."

Democratic presidential hopefuls also praised the Equality Act's passage.

"The Equality Act just passed the House, sending a clear message that discrimination against LGBTQ* people won’t be tolerated," Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) tweeted. "No one should ever be denied work, service, or a place to live because of who they are or who they love. I urge the GOP to bring it to the Senate floor."

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the race's only openly gay candidate, wrote on Twitter:

"Thanks to the work of thousands of activists, organizers, and voters, the Equality Act has in passed the House. This is a historic moment for equal rights in America. Now the bill goes to the Senate, and the time to call your Senator is now: (202) 224-3121"

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) tweeted that even though "the fight for full LGBTQ+ equality is far from over, she is "glad to see the House passed the Equality Act today to ban discrimination, protect transgender rights, and resist the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back our progress."

Bernie Sanders, Vermont's Independent Senator, called the passage "historic."

"LGBTQ Americans are still at risk of being fired, evicted and denied services. In the year 2019, that is totally unacceptable," he said. "I am proud to see the House pass the #EqualityAct so that every LGBTQ person in America is protected from discrimination. This is a historic day."

And Democratic Colorado Senator Michael Bennet:

Voices on the left rang loudly.

Progress.

MSNBC

As millions of Americans commemorated the legacy of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., presidential counsellor Kellyanne Conway railed against the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, set to begin in the Senate on Tuesday.

The President, who leaves for the World Economic Forum in Davos on Monday night, has no public plans to commemorate Martin Luther King Day, prompting reporters to ask Kellyanne how he intended to celebrate.

Keep reading...
HBO

The long-awaited tenth season of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm premiered this week, and the show's creator Larry David wasted no time in skewering current events.

One of the premiere episode's standout moments came when Larry tried on a red Make America Great Again cap—the signature accessory for supporters of President Donald Trump

Keep reading...
Drew Angerer/Getty Images // Stephen F. Somerstein/Getty Images

President Donald Trump's reaction to white supremacists and neo-Nazis in the aftermath of the Charlottesville riots hasn't been forgotten, even two years later.

The President infamously asserted that there were "very fine people on both sides" at the Unite the Right rally, where white supremacists protested the removal of a confederate statue. The ensuing violence resulted in the murder of counter-protestor Heather Heyer.

Keep reading...
ABC News

The Senate is gearing up for a historic impeachment trial against President Donald Trump, who withheld congressionally approved aid from Ukraine on the condition that its leaders announce investigations against his political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Days after taking an oath of impartiality, some Republican senators are making the rounds to defend Trump's actions.

Keep reading...
Erik Voake/Getty Images for Hulu via Getty Images // Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Amendment 4—a Florida referendum restoring voting rights to former felons—passed in 2018 with 65% of the vote, paving the way for an additional 1.4 million voters in the swing state.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis immediately took steps to undermine the public will by signing into law a bill that would only restore voting rights to felons who fully pay all fees and fines imposed after leaving prison.

Under Florida law, court debts left unpaid after three months are referred to private debt collectors, who can then tack on a surcharge of up to 40%.

Keep reading...
John Sommers II/Getty Images

A day after Senators took an oath of impartiality in the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump, the President eagerly announced the team of lawyers who will be defending him.

Two names on the list stood out.

Keep reading...