H.R.5. The Equality Act of 2019-2020

Trigger warning: This article contains mentions of assault, mistreatment, and suicide of minority groups such as LGBTQIA+ people, disabled people, and pregnant people. Reader discretion is advised. If needed, there are methods of reaching suicide hotlines listed at the bottom of the article.

This story and post is ongoing and will be updated as needed.

The Equality Act (H.R. 5) needs to be passed. Now that I’m out, I feel more comfortable discussing this and other LGBTQIA+ topics. H.R.5 is one of those topics.

H.R.5 provides legal protections against discrimination and gives equality to disabled people, pregnant people, and LGBTQIA+ people.

According to the official summary of H.R.5 on congress.gov, “This bill prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in a wide variety of areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation. The bill expands the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services. The bill allows the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection actions in federal court on account of sexual orientation or gender identity. Protections against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin shall include protections against discrimination based on (1) an association with another person who is a member of such a protected class; or (2) a perception or belief, even if inaccurate, that an individual is a member of such a protected class. The bill prohibits the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 from providing a claim, defense, or basis for challenging such protections. The bill prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.”

This bill has been in circulation since its’ introduction on March 13, 2019. The bill passed the House of Representatives with 236 yea to 173 nay votes on May 17, 2019.

On May 20, 2019, this bill was received by the Senate, with no action happening on it since the original delivery and is now sitting after a referral to the Committee on the Judiciary.

This bill should have passed last year, but instead it has just been sitting on a desk. I understand that the government is a slow and busy place, but while nothing is being done or granted in terms of our legal protection, LGBTQIA+ and pregnant people are being fired, assaulted, and, perhaps the saddest of them all, taking their own lives due to these issues.

These people’s protection and rights are currently sitting on a desk. That is not fair to them. Nobody should be fired or assaulted whilst their protection from these things is sitting on a desk.

Senators, do your jobs. Pick up that bill that can change the lives of all of your vulnerable constituents and vote yes on it. You could literally be saving a life by voting yes. Urge your fellow Senators to do the same, and get this thing passed and on the way to the President’s desk.

My biggest fears though, if this does even get a spot on the Senate floor, are the following; 1) the vote fails and the nay’s shoot the bill down, and 2) once it does pass and lands on Trump’s desk, the bill will be vetoed, and we won’t get our protections. Our homophobic president doesn’t want us to get our rights and protections, plain and simple. But, we need this bill passed and we need it to become a law, now. It will legitimately save lives once this is passed into law and then maybe our marginalized groups can be protected, and feel safe being ourselves.

If you are a constituent of a state in the United States, please call your Senators and urge them to listen and help us. If you don’t know how to get in contact with your Senators, you can go to https://whoismyrepresentative.com and enter your state and ZIP code to find the names, websites, email addresses, and phone numbers for all of your representatives, including your Senators. I urge you to reach out to them, and make them listen.

You can keep up with the official status of H.R. 5 at https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5.

Thank you for reading.

Suicide Helplines: There is help if you need it. There are resources for you. You are worth it, and you are here for a reason. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to start a conversation.