The Equality Act (H.R. 5) is a bill that would expand national civil rights laws by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The US House of Representatives will soon take up and consider this critical measure.
Without the Equality Act, our country’s current patchwork of inconsistent protections will remain. For example, in 30 states, LGBTQ people are at risk of being fired, refused housing, or denied services under state law.
And unfortunately, in some areas where limited protections exist, they are subject to overly broad religious exemptions.
The Equality Act would change this by creating a foundation of basic nondiscrimination protections across the nation that would protect LGBTQ people in areas such as employment, housing, education, and public accommodations, without expanding harmful religious exemptions.
By ensuring protections for LGBTQ people under national civil rights laws, the Equality Act would strengthen protections for everyone. For example, the bill expands the meaning of “public accommodations” to include retail stores; transportation services like airports, taxis, and bus stations; and service providers like accountants.
The Equality Act would also protect youth in child welfare services by preventing state-funded religious foster care and adoption agencies from discriminating against LGBTQ people. Currently, 11 states have laws on the books that allow discrimination in adoption and foster care on the basis of religion, and other states are considering this issue.
The Equality Act has overwhelming support in the House of Representatives, and these protections are supported by a substantial majority of Americans. This commonsense legislation is long past due.