The act expands on a 2020 Supreme Court ruling protecting some LGBT rights.
News- The House of Representatives on Thursday passed the Equality Act, a landmark LGBTQ rights bill that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in numerous arenas, including employment, housing, education, public accommodations, credit and jury service.
But what does that actually mean?
"We rise to tell our LGBTQIA community that not only do you matter, but you are loved and you are cared for", said Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-Missouri).
Its passage represents an enormous step forward for LGBT+ rights in America as it finally addresses the "patchwork" state coverage that leaves countless queer people vulnerable to discrimination.
What's the situation across the United States?. Less than half of the states have policies in place to protect LGBT and gender rights. The bill will then extend Fair Housing and Civil Rights to the LGBTQ community in all U.S. states.
Conservatives pointed out that the bill specifically exempts itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, raising fears that churches, religious schools and devout small-business owners could be sanctions for adhering to traditional beliefs.
Some conservatives and Republicans are concerned that the legislation could infringe upon religious liberty or lead to inequality in athletic competitions if transgender women compete against cisgender women.
She then slammed members of Congress who "describe transgender people as something less-than, as underserving, and illegitimate".
Who supports and opposes the act?.
"This long overdue legislation will provide millions of LGBTQ Americans explicit protections from being denied medical care, fired from their jobs, or thrown out of their homes simply because of who they are", said Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) as he spoke in favor of the Equality Act. A recent Gallup Poll showed a record 5.6% of USA adults identified as LGBTQ.
How many Americans are LGBT?.
More: 'Society is changing': A record 5.6% of U.S. adults identify as LGBTQ, poll shows.
"If passed into law, the Equality Act could prohibit religious organizations-Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, all-and churches from hiring only like-minded people who believe what they believe", he continued.
"The Equality Act seeks to stamp out discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community - something that we unfortunately see far too often".
Rising acceptance of homosexuality internationally.
Will it pass the Senate?If they pass it, it will go to President Biden's desk to be signed into law.
However, as it needs 60 votes in order to bypass procedural obstacles, it is unlikely to move past the upper chamber.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he would use his powers as majority leader to put the bill on the floor and would dare Republicans to vote against it, though he declined to say when he would bring the legislation up in the Senate.