House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday
vowed to pass the Equality Act.
Pelosi made the promise in her first
remarks as House Speaker of the 116th Congress. While she
received 220 votes to be elected to the post, 15 Democrats declined
to vote for Pelosi on the House floor.
“We will make America fairer by
passing the Equality Act to end discrimination against the LGBTQ
community,” she said.
First introduced in 2015, the Equality
Act seeks to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in seven key areas,
including credit, education, employment, federal funding, housing,
jury service and public accommodations, by effectively expanding the
Civil Rights Act, originally approved in 1964.
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President
Chad Griffin praised Pelosi's remarks.
“Now is the time to move equality
forward by advancing the Equality Act to ensure LGBTQ Americans are
able to go to go to work, raise their families, and live their lives
free from discrimination,” Griffin said in a statement. “Far too
many LGBTQ people face unfair and unjust discrimination each and
every day with only a patchwork of protections across the country. We
are thankful for Speaker Pelosi reaffirming her commitment to advance
this critically important legislation and seize this historic moment
to make full federal LGBTQ equality a reality.”
While passage in the House seems likely
with a new Democratic majority, the Equality Act faces a steep
incline in the Senate, where Republicans have increased their
majority. While President Donald Trump has not specifically
commented on the legislation, as a presidential candidate in 2016 he
endorsed North Carolina's House Bill 2, which blocked cities from
enacting LGBT protections and prohibited transgender people from
using the bathroom of their choice in public buildings.