Congressional Democrats renew push for LGBTQ civil rights protections

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a civil rights bill meant to protect members of the LGBTQ community.

Dubbed the Equality Act, it would ban discrimination against gay or transgender people in the workplace and in regards to housing and education.

It’s not the first time the House has passed the bill; they did it in 2019, too. But as with last time, the vast majority of Republicans voted against it, saying it would stand in the way of religious freedom.

“This bill should be called the inequality act,” Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., said on the House floor. “Religious belief and faith no longer matter in Democrats’ new world order.”

She also argued the bill would be bad for female athletes.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., tried twice to derail the vote by moving for the House to adjourn. She tweeted Wednesday that “there are TWO genders” at Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill., the mother of a transgender daughter.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., who is also a pastor, said Republicans are on the wrong side of history.

“All human beings should have the absolute right to be who they are,” he said.

Democrats in the Senate are on board, with Ed Markey of Massachusetts saying during a press conference that “it is way past time” for the protections and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin calling on the chamber to “get the job done.”

It’s still unclear whether any Republicans will go for it. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said he hasn’t decided which way to vote.

“I’ll scrutinize it very closely,” he said. “I’m opposed to discrimination on any basis… but I do want to make sure that religious liberties are protected, that our constitutional rights are protected.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he believes the bill has enough bipartisan support to pass the Senate. President Joe Biden, also a Democrat, said he wants to see that happen within his first 100 days in office.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that people could not be discriminated against in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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