Democrats in the House carried sweeping anti-discrimination legislation to passage Friday, a bill that would extend civil rights protections to LGBT people by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The protections would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education, public accommodations, and other areas, the AP reports. Called the Equality Act, the bill is a top priority of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said it will bring the nation "closer to equal liberty and justice for all." Sexual orientation and gender identity "deserve full civil rights protections—in the workplace and in every place, education, housing, credit, jury service, public accommodations," Pelosi said.
The vote was 236-173, with every Democrat and eight Republicans in favor. Applause broke out on the House floor as the bill crossed the threshold for passage. The bill's chief sponsor, Rep. David Cicilline, said it affirms fairness and equality as core American values "and ensures members of the LGBTQ community can live their lives free from the fear of legal discrimination of any kind." Republicans have said the bill would jeopardize religious freedom by requiring acceptance of a particular ideology about sexuality and sexual identity. A similar bill in the Senate is co-sponsored by all but one Senate Democrat, but faces long odds in the Republican-controlled chamber.
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