The final vote was 224-206. Three Republicans joined Democrats to vote on the bill. Reps John Katko, Tom Reed and Brian Fitzpatrick voted with Democrats on that vote, and they did so when legislation passed in the House also in 2019. When the bill passed the House Council in 2019, eight Republicans joined Democrats to pass legislation.
Proponents of the LGBTQ community argue that the legislation will help protect people from states where it is legal to discriminate against people and add that the law has long been expected.
“We are really excited to have the incredible support of President Biden and his commitment to making the Equality Act the law of the land,” Rep. David Cicilline, co-sponsor of the Equality Act, said on Thursday. “All Americans deserve respect and dignity and it is important that the Equality Act becomes law because it will ensure once and for all that LGBTQ Americans can live free from discrimination.”
But critics of the legislation include members of some religious communities, as well as those who oppose the participation of transgender women in women’s sports. Republicans point to a provision in the legislation that says a person cannot be denied access to a toilet, locker room or locker room based on their gender identity.
Some opponents reject the validity of trans identities and are concerned that transgender women and girls share private spaces with cisgender women and girls.
Transgender athletes in recent years have fought against legislation aimed at limiting their participation because of their gender identity. Many argue that these policies violate Title IX, the federal anti-discrimination law in accredited education with a level playing field for women in sports.
Republican Rep. Andy Biggs, who is the chairman of the House’s most conservative caucus, criticized the legislation, saying it would be a “devastating attack on humanity.”
“While it attacks religious freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of association, all the important rights recognized in the First Amendment, it does not stop there, but denies the biological facts that men and women are the two genders, ”he said Thursday. “The bill recklessly requires girls’ and women’s restrooms, lockers, gyms or any place a woman may seek privacy to cede that privacy to biological men. Women’s sports are already infiltrating.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the Equality Act is just one part of the Biden administration’s “assault on freedom.”
“I mean if you look at Biden’s appointments for cabinet members, suing nuns and other people, this really seems like an attack on freedom of religion, girls’ sport and others, ”he said during his weekly press conference. “If you’re a member of Congress, I’m interested in how far they’ve come and how much they want to go.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer addressed some of the “despicable comments some Republicans made about trans people,” without calling them Thursday.
“His attacks on trans people in the transgender community are just bad. Media,” the New York Democrat said at a news conference before the House Equality Act passed. “And they show a total lack of understanding, a lack of empathy. They don’t represent our opinions and they don’t represent the opinions of most Americans. Their contemptuous comments only make my blood boil with rage. If not do “I don’t have a mask where you could see how your teeth are breaking.”
“I need to break my heart,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said about the legislation at her weekly press conference Thursday morning. “But the fact is, in fact, we had a sad event here even this morning demonstrating the need for us to have respect. Not even respect, but pride, pride of our LGBTQ community.”
CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to more accurately describe some of the oppositions to the Equality Act.
CNN’s Ashley Killough contributed to this report.
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