The Equality Act does not appear to be equally loved by gay Americans.
The proposed legislation seeks to amend federal civil rights laws to provide protections for LGBT Americans in employment, education, housing, credit, jury service, and more. However, not all who fly the rainbow flag approve of its contents.
One group, Log Cabin Republicans, opposes the Equality Act.
In a tweet, LCR stated, “The so-called ‘Equality Act’ is a dangerous piece of legislation that will do harm to our nation. We opposed previous versions of this bill, and do so again in its current form.”
On Feb. 25, the Equality Act passed by a vote of 224-206 in the House of Representatives. Three Republicans — Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and New York Reps. John Katko and Tom Reed — crossed the aisle to vote yea.
All Democrats support the Equality Act, including Rep. Ted Deutch (FL-22), who represents Wilton Manors and parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
“Equality is still not guaranteed to all,” Deutch tweeted. “LGBTQ people can be denied housing in 27 states & access to education in 31 states. I’m proud to vote to fix these discriminatory laws & extend protections to LGBTQ Americans, including my proud LGBTQ constituents in South Florida.”
Meanwhile, Richard Grenell, the former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, maintains the 2021 version of the Equality Act would only grant “special rights” to individual groups.
“We just want to be treated equally,” Grenell, a gay man, told the Washington Examiner while attending CPAC in Orlando over the weekend. “And over the years, we’ve migrated into a group of angry leadership in Washington, demanding special rights. And the attack on the religious community is unacceptable.”
Log Cabin Republicans list several reasons for its opposition to H.R. 5, aka the Equality Act. The list includes expansion of abortion, banning of therapy relating to gender dysphoria, destruction of women’s sports, increased risk of suicide, dismantling of religious freedom and federal overreach. The Equality Act, LCR argues, puts transgender rights above rights of gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
“Gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of society would also effectively become an ‘extinct species’ under this bill. That’s because it would enshrine the gender identity agenda that is counter to gay rights. For decades, we gays preached to the world that we were ‘born this way,’ and that being gay, lesbian, or bisexual 'is not a choice,'” wrote LCR member John Paul Moran.
In a Facebook post, longtime Equality Florida activist Joe Saunders expressed disappointment with three Miami area representatives. Rep. Mario Diaz Balart (FL-25), Rep. Carlos Giménez (FL-26) and Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27) — all Republicans — voted against the Equality Act.
“This was a once in a lifetime vote to add the LGBTQ community to our country’s Federal civil rights laws and they voted AGAINST our community,” wrote Saunders, a former state representative.
Saunders said Salazar and Giménez’s districts have many LGBT constituents and a long history of pro-equality representation.
“This is outrageous and indefensible,” Saunders wrote.
SAVE Executive Director Orlando Gonzales said misinformation is to blame for the South Florida GOP delegation’s flip.
“It is critically important that we educate and share with everyone how the Equality Act embraces freedom of religion,” wrote Gonzales in an email to supporters.
“Firstly, the freedom of religion is important to all of us. It is one of our nation’s most sacred and fundamental values. That is why it is already fully protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, and the Equality Act does nothing to lessen those protections. LGBTQ leaders, activists, and citizens have no desire to undermine existing protections for people of faith under the Constitution or existing laws.”
Passed by the House, the Equality Act now moves on to the Senate where it will need 60 votes to be enshrined into law. It is unclear when that vote will happen, but proponents are already gearing up for the fight.
“We hope that when the U.S. Senate takes up the bill that Marco Rubio and Rick Scott will recognize the large number of LGBTQ+ Floridians who are watching,” said Stephen Gaskill, president of the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, in a press release. “They may have a vote on our rights, but we have a vote on their jobs.”