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US House Passes LGBT Equality Act, 8 Republicans Break Rank to Vote w/Democrats

As you all know by now the US House of Representatives on Friday passed the Equality Act, a bill that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing, the workplace, public accommodations, and other settings by amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Under federal and most states’ laws, LGBT Americans aren’t explicitly protected from discrimination. Only 21 states and the District of Columbia currently protect LGBT people from housing discrimination; criminal codes that specifically identify LGBT hate crimes only exist in 20 states plus D.C.; and LGBT employees in 29 states face the prospect of workplace discrimination without explicit legal recourse.

The bill, passed 236-173 mostly along party lines with the exception of 8 Republicans who voted along with Democrats to pass the bill.

The eight Republicans who backed the Equality Act, which opponents cast as anti-religious freedom, were Reps. Susan Brooks (Ind.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) Will Hurd (Texas), John Katko (N.Y.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Greg Walden (Ore.).

“LGBT Americans are part of the fabric of our society and should be free to exercise the rights guaranteed to every American by the Constitution to participate fully in our society and pursue every opportunity,” Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick.

Republican Congressman Will Hurd, echoed these statements to Newsweek, saying that the “nation’s patchwork of protections for the LGBT community falls well short of ensuring life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for millions of Americans.”

The measure faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled upper chamber, where it is unlikely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will bring the bill up for a vote. 

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's well known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story, Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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