House Passes the “Equality Act” to Expand LBGTQ Protections

The House of Representatives voted 224 to 206 to approve the “Equality Act,” which would expand civil rights protections to LBGTQ individuals by banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, education, employment, and other areas. NLIHC strongly supports the bill, which now heads to the Senate. The bill was first introduced in 2019, passing in the House but blocked for further consideration in the Senate (see Memo 05/20/2019).

The legislation was reintroduced by Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) in the House and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in the Senate, along with 224 House cosponsors. The bill will be formally reintroduced in the Senate later this week.

As stated in Representative Cicilline’s press release, in 27 states, people can be denied housing because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ people can also be denied access to education in 31 states and the right to serve on a jury in 41 states. The Equality Act would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, education, housing, credit, jury service, public accommodations, and federal funding.

President Biden stated during his campaign that passage of the Equality Act would be one of his top legislative priorities. On his first day in office, the president signed an executive order directing the federal government to fully implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia (see Memo01/25). The ruling, issued on June 15, 2020, held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bars discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation (see Memo06/22). The order reinforces laws that prohibit sex discrimination, including the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

HUD also announced on February 11 that it will enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The memorandum will begin implementation of the policy set in forth in President Biden’s Executive Order 138988 on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation (see Memo01/25). HUD was the first agency to release directives in implementing the President’s day-one Executive Order.  

Read the H.R.5 - Equality Act at:

Read Congressman Cicilline’s press release announcing the introduction of the Equality Act at:

Read President Biden’s statement on the introduction of the Equality Act in Congress at:

Read the Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation at: