The US House of Representatives approved a bill on Thursday that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protection from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. The bill, called the Equality Act, “prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system.”
The Equality Act, which passed with a 224-206 vote, also defines gender identity, sex, and sexual orientation to be inclusive of stereotypes and gender-related characteristics. It acknowledges that the intersection of any of these characteristics might lead to discrimination based on any of the factors protected. For example, the bill states that a pregnant lesbian might be discriminated against for “her sex, her sexual orientation, her pregnancy, or on the basis of multiple factors.”
The bill not only amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by adding gender and sexual orientation to the list of factors that cannot be discriminated against, but also expands the places that may not discriminate based on these protected factors. The bill encompasses “any establishment that provides a good, service, or program,” such as a shopping center, food bank, or health care center; any transportation service, such as a taxi or bus service; and any recreational or public gathering or display, such as museums or amusement parks. It also prevents individuals from being denied access to public facilities, such as bathrooms and changing rooms that correspond to the individual’s gender identity.
The bill will now move to be considered by the Senate.