The House passed sweeping reforms to the Civil Rights Act on Thursday, enshrining broad mandates regarding the treatment of LGBT people.
The House passed the Equality Act in a 224-206 vote. The Democratic caucus voted unanimously in favor of the bill along with three Republican House members who sided with the Democrats against the rest of their caucus.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) slammed the bill in a press conference earlier on Thursday and vowed to fight the Equality Act, should it pass the Senate and receive President Joe Biden’s signature, in court. Critics say the legislation tramples the rights of religious Americans in favor of the LGBT community and would put many Americans in situations of either following the law or violating deeply held religious beliefs.
“This body being led by Democrats is trampling the rights of the people in the name of ‘equality,’ in the false name of ‘equality,’” Roy said in remarks on the Capitol steps. “Our federalist system allows us to agree to disagree, and we should be able to do that. But if this Democratic Congress, and if the Democratic leadership, and if this White House continues to trample the rights of the people of the United States, then it is they who will be destroying this Union.”
“We are going to keep fighting it in the courts and beyond,” Roy continued, “but most importantly, through free will as American citizens and our right to live free and to alter this government as necessary if they continue to trample our rights.”
"Our federalist system allows us to agree to disagree … if this Democratic Congress and the Democratic leadership and this White House continue to trample the rights of the People of the United States, then it is they who will be destroying this Union."
— Rep. Chip Roy Press Office (@RepChipRoy) February 25, 2021
That act adds sweeping LGBT protections to the Civil Rights Act and overhauls the law in such a way that would force religious Americans to violate their conscience in certain circumstances, critics say.
“We are witnessing the greatest assault on religious freedom, biological reality, and parental rights ever seen in the U.S. Congress,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement. “The sweeping Equality Act expands the definition of ‘public accommodation’ in many instances to include churches and schools – including religious schools. The bill redefines what it means to be ‘male and female.’ It politicizes medicine and forces doctors to violate their consciences. And it redefines religious freedom into something that would be unrecognizable to our Founding Fathers.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) cheered the bill, which has passed the House now for the second time in nine months, and said the legislation had new life with a better chance of becoming law with Democratic control of the Senate and White House.
“Passing the Equality Act the last time was historic, a day of hope and happiness for millions,” Pelosi said in a speech on the House floor, according to The Washington Times. “Now with a Democratic Senate majority and President Biden in the White House, and Vice President Harris there as well, we will pass it once more and we will never stop fighting until it becomes law.”