The Equality Act, a comprehensive, federal, LGBTQ civil rights bill, passed the U.S. House yesterday in a bipartisan vote—and in their speeches before the vote, the two LGBTQ parents in Congress both spoke about their kids and about the wider impact of the legislation.
First, let’s recap the Equality Act itself, which would extend several existing federal civil rights laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to cover sexual orientation and gender identity. It would also prohibit discrimination in federally funded programs and public spaces and services on the basis of sex. Its coverage would extend to employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, foster care, adoption, and more, better protecting LGBTQ people, women, and the families so many of us support—and this would strengthen our communities and our nation as a whole.
Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN), a co-chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus and an original cosponsor of the Act, said in her speech before the vote (my bold): “As the first openly lesbian wife and mother in Congress … I know this legislation is the culmination of a lifetime of work for so many. My wife Cheryl and I have built a beautiful life together, raising four sons who we dearly love.” Their home state of Minnesota, she said, already offers many of the protections of the Act, but in other states, “it would be entirely legal for Cheryl and I to be discriminated against based on our love and commitment to one another.” Watch her full speech below:
Today, the House will vote on the groundbreaking #EqualityAct. ??????????
As a young lesbian woman growing up in rural America, I never imagined I’d finally see this legislation come to the House floor – much less have a chance to vote for it as a Member of Congress. pic.twitter.com/06v05n64Y2
— Angie Craig (@RepAngieCraig) February 25, 2021
Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), the highest-ranking out LGBTQ member of the House, a co-chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus, and an original cosponsor of the Act, is the father of three children with his husband, Randy Florke. “I was thinking about my kids as I walked onto the floor today,” he said in his speech to the House ahead of the vote, before asserting that the argument of those who oppose the Act is that LGBT people are morally inferior and that discrimination against them must be permitted. “Let history record the vote today,” he concluded. “One side votes for love.” Here are his full words:
The GOP is making outrageous & false claims about the #EqualityAct. They’re lying to confuse & misinform the public.
Today, with the passage of this bill, we exposed those lies & reminded America what this is really about: equality for LGBTQ Americans. No more, no less. pic.twitter.com/L6dTPtuvrN
— Sean Patrick Maloney (@RepSeanMaloney) February 25, 2021
The Act passed the House 224-206, with all Democrats voting for, along with only three Republicans: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), John Katko (NY), and Tom Reed (NY). It now moves on to the Senate, where it will likely face an uphill battle. Call or e-mail your senators today and urge them to support it.