A Republican congresswoman has put forward an amendment for the pro-LGBTI right Equality Act to be renamed as the ‘Forfeiting Women’s Rights Act’.
Representative Debbie Lesko from Arizona submitted what has been dubbed ‘the most condescending and superficial‘ amendment for the Equality Act.
The Equality Act is a wide-ranging bill designed at banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The bill seeks to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected traits. If passed, it would prohibit discrimination in various areas, including employment, housing, public accommodation, and more on a national level.
Lesko’s amendment is among 34 others which have been submitted to the US House Rules Committee for consideration. The Equality Act is expected to come to a House vote next week.
Opponents to the bill have attempted to characterize it as a threat to women’s rights and religious liberties.
28 out of 34 amendments by the GOP
Of the 34 amendments put forward, 28 came from House Republicans.
The House Rules Committee will consider the amendments put forward, and decide what can be voted on.
Amendments put forward by Republicans include denying trans people from accessing public bathrooms or other facilities which match their gender identity, and which assert parents or doctors the right to deny gender affirmation therapy for minors.
Other amendments proposed by the GOP offer religious exemptions to the Equality Act. In its current form, it would not be possible to use the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a means to justify violating the Equality Act.
Amendments put forward by Democrats were largely ‘aimed at enhancing the bill’s prohibition on anti-LGBT discrimination rather than diminishing it’, according to the Washington Blade.
These include an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to be established to combat sex discrimination in the workplace, and anti-discrimination legislation on jury selection in the District of Columbia.
The full list of amendments can be found on the House Rules Committee’s website.
Wide-ranging support throughout the US
This is the first time the Equality Act has made it for a vote in the House, having failed on two previous occasions. The bill has long been championed by LGBTI rights advocates in the US.
Polling suggests there is wide-ranging support for the bill throughout the nation. A survey by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) that around 70% of Americans would support a bill like the Equality Act.
Surveys have also found strong support for LGBTI employment protections among US businesses.
161 leading businesses in the US have joined HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act. The businesses are spread over all 50 states, have a combined revenue of over $3.8 trillion, and employ 8.7 million people across the US.
Currently, only 20 US states have laws which prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.