House Democrats are promising to take action on major pro-LGBTQ legislation if they regain the majority in the midterm elections Tuesday.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said recently she would introduce anti-discrimination legislation — the “Equality Act” — as one of the first orders of business, should Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives.
The bill would expand the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which already bans discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, religion and nationality, to include discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in places like retail shops, restaurants, realty, health care and social services, according to The News Tribune.
Facebook continues to support the Equality Act. As a company where fairness in the workplace is a fundamental principle, we oppose workplace discrimination and support legal protections for LGBTQ Americans. pic.twitter.com/rHnLLs1psA
— FacebookNL (@FacebookNL) October 26, 2018
Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, told the Tribune the pro-LGBTQ proposal would be given “a place of honor” on the agenda, meaning it would be among the first bills up for consideration.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the bill’s lead sponsor, said in a statement it is “way past time to end discrimination across the board.”
“I find it astounding that here we are, in a situation where you can now take your marriage certificate from state to state, but if you travel with your partner, in one you’re treated as a citizen with full rights, and in the next, you’re treated as a second-class citizen,” he argued.
I will continue to do everything I can to support our LGBTQ community, including continuing to push for my #EqualityAct, which would ban discrimination against LGBTQ Americans. https://t.co/YWLsi3tdot
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) October 26, 2018
Conservatives are wary of the proposal, arguing its passage could significantly diminish the rights of religious Americans who hold to a biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality.
Mary Beth Waddell, senior legislative assistant for conservative Family Research Council, suggested the changes would endorse government-sanctioned discrimination against conservative Christians.
“The current law in civil rights and the protected classes are inborn and unchangeable characteristics like race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sex, etc., and religion, which is expressly protected under the constitution,” Waddell said. “What the Equality Act does is it turns it on its head and allow the government to impose a belief system about sexual decisions and sexual behaviors on the nation.”