The United States House of Representatives on Friday passed as expected the controversial bill known as the Equality Act. It now moves to the Senate, where it was expected to die in committee in the GOP-controlled chamber, despite rising pressure from the LGBTQ lobby.
Eight Republicans joined House Democrats in passing HR 5, which the political left has argued codifies legal protections for homosexuals and transgendered people. Conservatives, meanwhile, have said the bill would harm religious liberty and rights of conscience beyond what the Supreme Court’s Obergefell gay marriage ruling in 2014 has done.
Rep. Vicki Hartzler, R-Missouri, posted on Twitter following the vote: “This bill should be called the IN-equality Act. There is nothing equalizing about it. It hijacks the Civil Rights Act of 1964, erasing decades of progress for women across the country, punishes everyday citizens, silences free speech and discriminates against people of faith. Americans have the right to live and work according to their beliefs, without the federal government mandating how they should view marriage, sexuality and gender.”
The eight Republicans who voted for HR 5 were Reps. Susan Brooks of Indiana; Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida; Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania; Will Hurd of Texas; Greg Walden of Oregon; and John Katko, Tom Reed and Elise Stefanik of New York.
Opponents of the bill, including elected politicians and conservative groups, have pointed to the Equality Act as a taste of things to come if the liberal- progressive movement gains ground in upcoming elections.
The National Organization for Marriage describes HR 5 on its website as “the gravest threat we’ve faced since the onslaught against marriage in the courts” and a bill that “makes support for traditional marriage, and for many other values we hold dear, practically illegal.” It has begun an online petition to rally opposition against it.