The Equality Act Passes in the House
February 24, 2021
WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. House of Representatives again passed the Equality Act (H.R.5) in a vote of 224-206. Introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (RI-1) and co-sponsored by 224 members of the House, this landmark legislation would protect people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ+) from discrimination under federal law. The Equality Act would also extend federal protections for women, including people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and ensure people of faith, people of color, immigrants, women, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities can access places and providers of public accommodation – from a grocery store to a baseball game, from rideshare transportation to a virtual dating app.
“As an African American mother of a transgender adult child, my faith is an integral part of my life. Supporting the Equality Act is a way for me and other people of faith to affirm God’s love for every single person. I am encouraged that the Equality Act has taken this first vital step toward becoming law,” said Dr. Edith Guffey, Conference Minister of the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference of the United Church of Christ and PFLAG National Board Member.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act was a crucial step in the civil rights movement that led to important changes in our culture in the quest to achieve equality for all people. However, the current law does not protect Black and Brown people or people of other protected classes from experiencing discrimination from businesses. A study in the Journal of Planning Education and Research demonstrated that as recently as 2019, Black passengers using ride-hailing services such as Uber, Lyft, taxi, etc., regularly experienced trip cancellation and longer wait times than white riders. In healthcare, the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report published in December 2020 demonstrated that white people in the U.S. received better health care across multiple measures than about 40 percent of Black people, 40 percent American Indians and Alaska Natives, more than one-third of Hispanic, Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian people, and about 30 percent of Asian people.
The Equality Act updates the 1964 Civil Rights Act to meet the needs of today. In addition to adding protections based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, it enumerates what “public accommodation” includes and expands the definition of where discrimination is unlawful. This includes transportation, health care, banking, entertainment, legal services, accounting, shelters and food banks, gyms, travel agencies, salons, and even funeral services.
“The Equality Act ensures that all of God’s beloved children, inclusive of people who are LGBTQ+, have the right to access food, clothing, shelter, education, and so much more,” said Dr. Guffey. “Passage of the Equality Act ensures that our children, our sisters, brothers, friends and colleagues will no longer be turned away simply for being who they are. I am hopeful for passage in the Senate so we take another step in becoming a country that truly includes all.”
The Equality Act next moves to the Senate for passage. “As PFLAGers, we understand initial hesitation that is often rooted in unconscious bias toward LGBTQ+ people,” said Brian K. Bond, Executive Director of PFLAG National. “But when one considers that LGBTQ+ people include our family members, our staff and colleagues, our faith leaders, and our trusted companions, it becomes clear the only way to eliminate discrimination in this country is to make sure our laws support an end to it. The path forward is the Equality Act.”
Accompanying today’s vote in the House, PFLAG National will host Rep. David Cicilline (RI-1) and Rep. Chris Pappas (NH-1) for a live, 30-minute discussion about the Equality Act as part of the organization’s weekly diversity and inclusion broadcast series, “Something to Talk About Live.” The live panel discussion will take place at 4:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. CT, 2:30 p.m. MT, 1:30 p.m. PT) on PFLAG’s Facebook, (closed caption available), YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn channels. Viewers are encouraged to comment and post questions throughout.
PFLAG is an organization of LGBTQ+ people, parents, families, and allies who work together to create an equitable and inclusive world. We are hundreds of thousands of people and hundreds of chapters from coast to coast who are leading with love to support families, educate allies, and advocate for just, equitable, and inclusive legislation and policies. Since our founding in 1973, PFLAG works every day to ensure LGBTQ+ people everywhere are safe, celebrated, empowered and loved. Learn more, find support, donate, and take action at PFLAG.org.
Laura McGinnis (she/her),
Sr. Manager, Press and Public Relations
[email protected] | (202) 864-2247