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Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde March 12, 2021

House passage of Equality Act advances Biden campaign promise

President Joe Biden's promise for a new law that guarantees LGBTQ Americans protection from discrimination moved forward with the House passage of the Equality Act.

The Equality Act seeks to amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identiy and sexual orientation. The law currently protects against discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

The proposal applies to employment, education, housing, credit, jury service and programs that receive federal funding and public accommodations (such as retail stores).

The Equality Act would supersede the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law intended to protect religious practices from government interference. (The U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1997 that the federal law did not apply to states, prompting some states to pass their own version of the law.) 

The House passed the proposal in February with the support of 221 Democrats and three Republicans, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he will bring the legislation to a vote on the Senate floor.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hold a hearing on the legislation March 17. Whether the Equality Act gets enough support in the Senate is uncertain. The bill would need the support of at least 60 senators to break a filibuster, any legislative attempt to block or delay Senate action on the bill.

There's a push in Congress toward Biden's promise of enacting the Equality Act. Pending a Senate vote on the proposal, we rate this promise In the Works.

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