House OKs Historic LGBT Equality Bill

House OKs Historic LGBT Equality Bill


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Janet Ybarra
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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The House approved on Friday what could become landmark legislation which, for the first time, would provide gay, transgender and others in the LGBT community the same legal protection against discrimination as ethnic and other minorities already so protected.

The Democratic-controlled House approved the Equality Act, designated HR 5, on a margin of 236-173. Eight Republicans joined all Democrats voting in favor of the legislation.

The bill would add the categories “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the existing Civil Rights Act to offer a broad spectrum of protection in housing, employment and more to members of the LBGT community.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi celebrated the legislation ahead of the final vote.

“It is a deeply powerful moment to be on this floor to talk about this important legislation,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi framed the Equality Act as part of an overall spectrum of effort to provide full rights to LGBT Americans, including doing away with the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (which at one point prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage), the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the now-former policy which prevented gay and lesbian servicemembers from serving openly in the military. Still to be overturned is Donald Trump’s ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military.

Pelosi also paid tribute to a number of leaders who fought battles successfully for LGBT Americans. These range, she said, from President Barack Obama, to civic leaders in her hometown of San Francisco, Calif.

“When people say to me, ‘It’s easy for you to be for some of these things because you are from San Francisco, people are so tolerant there.’ I say, ‘Tolerant? That is a condescending word to me. This is not about tolerance, this is about respect of the LGBTQ community.  This is about taking pride.’ And that is what we do.”

Although the House approved this bill, its chances of becoming law seem slim in the short-term, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has vowed to turn the Republican-dominated Senate into a “graveyard” for legislation from the Democratic-controlled House.

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