The so-called Equality Act, H.R. 5, could be voted on by the U.S. Senate at any moment as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has utilized a special legislative provision to push it to the floor, forgoing its referral to any committees, as is customary with most bills. On March 2, 2021, H.R. 5 was read for the first and second time in the U.S. Senate and placed on the Senate calendar, bringing it closer to a vote at any time. The Equality Act passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 224-206 on February 25.
The same day that the Equality Act passed in the House, Senate Majority Leader Schumer promised, before an LGBTQ audience in New York, to give H.R. 5 a floor vote — in contrast to the previous Congress, in which then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to bring it to the floor for a vote, allowing it to instead die in committee. “McConnell created the legislative graveyard and anything the House passed with a Democratic majority he wouldn’t bring to the floor,” Schumer was quoted as saying, according to Newsday.
If passed in the Senate and signed into law by the president, H.R. 5 would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes,” according to the bill. The bill aims to expand federal protections in education, housing, employment, and more to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, or LGBTQ, people.
With respect to “gender identity,” the bill also states that “an individual shall not be 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,” thus allowing biological boys to enter and use restrooms and locker rooms of biological girls in schools, gyms, churches, and other establishments.