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The LGBTQ Equality Act is headed back to Congress—but it faces a tough crowd

Democrats want to hold Republicans accountable for upholding discriminatory policies.


Ana Valens


Posted on Mar 15, 2017   Updated on May 24, 2021, 8:42 pm CDT

Democrats are preparing to reintroduce a bill into Congress that would protect LGBTQ citizens from discrimination nationwide. But the legislature may face harsh opposition from Republicans.

The Equality Act would protect LGBTQ citizens by outlawing discrimination based on gender identity and sexuality in housing, employment, and public places. The 2017 version of the act would also allow transgender students to use gender-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms in schools across the nation. The act has been introduced into Congress before, but quickly died, as Republicans shot down holding a committee hearing for the bill. Now, Democrats hope to reintroduce the bill in order to put pressure on Republicans to admit why they refuse to protect LGBTQ citizens from discrimination.

Alongside being introduced in the House, a companion bill will be introduced in the Senate by Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley. The Democrats hope the bill could rally voters as the 2018 elections gradually approach. However, with the Republicans holding a majority in both the House and Senate, activists fear that the act will be shot down before any substantial progress can be made

“Every member of Congress should have to be counted and show exactly where they stand: either for or against full equality for all Americans,” Senator Merkley said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “In 2017, any elected leader who wants to use their position to maintain outdated and discriminatory policies should have to stand up and explain why.”

If the Equality Act becomes law, its passing would be a major victory for LGBTQ citizens across the country. Throughout red states, governments are removing protections for LGBTQ citizens, or otherwise shooting down municipal and county protections. In Missouri, lawmakers killed a state bill protecting LGBTQ citizens from discrimination in housing, employment, and public facilities. The Arkansas Supreme Court nullified municipal LGBTQ antidiscrimination ordinances across the state in February, after Fayetteville’s LGBTQ protection ordinance was originally upheld in court. And an Oklahoma bill could wipe LGBTQ protections from across the state, forcing cities and counties to refer to the state government for antidiscrimination matters (at the moment, no antidiscrimination protections exist for LGBTQ citizens from the Oklahoma state government).

These measures culminate with a variety of attacks on LGBTQ community centers across the United States, including a shooting at Tulsa’s Equality Center. Hateful words were later yelled into the center the morning after the attack.

H/T PinkNews

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*First Published: Mar 15, 2017, 10:14 am CDT