Lambda Legal Applauds Historic Passage of the Equality Act in the House

Find Your State

Know the laws in your state that protect LGBT people and people living with HIV.
May 17, 2019

(Washington, D.C., May 17, 2019)—Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed by a 236-173 vote H.R.5, the Equality Act, the federal bill introduced by U.S. Reps. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), as well as Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), that updates existing federal nondiscrimination laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act, to confirm that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is unlawful discrimination based on sex.

The bill, which now moves to the U.S. Senate, affirms the many court decisions which have concluded that discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing, education, and credit violates the federal sex discrimination bans. Further, it adds protections against sex, sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination to the federal laws covering public accommodations and federally funded programs.

Lambda Legal Interim CEO Richard Burns issued the following statement on today’s historic vote:

"The U.S. House of Representatives today, in an historic and bipartisan vote, passed the Equality Act, an essential bill that spotlights the pervasive, unjust, and unacceptable discrimination facing LGBT Americans and their families. This bill underscores and makes explicit the protections that already exist in federal nondiscrimination law against anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Lambda Legal’s litigation over the years has led an increasing number of courts and agencies across the country to recognize that LGBT people are protected under existing sex discrimination laws. The Equality Act makes those protections clear.

“We know the Equality Act faces an uphill battle in the U.S. Senate. It shouldn’t. LGBT Americans continue to face appalling, unjust discrimination in many aspects of their everyday lives. We know this from the thousands of calls Lambda Legal’s Help Desk gets each year from all corners of our country. Specifically, we know that workplace discrimination is one of the most frequent problems that LGBT people face. Workplace equality has been a top priority for Lambda Legal since our founding nearly 50 years ago, and remains one today.

“We call on the Senate to give the Equality Act the full, fair and comprehensive consideration it deserves. The Equality Act addresses the inadequate patchwork of protections that vary from state to state with a broad federal statute protecting LGBTQ people across the country and throughout their daily lives. The Equality Act codifies the American principle that a person's job performance, rather than sexual orientation or gender identity, should determine success on the job.  The Equality Act will also ensure that when LGBTQ people go to the bank for a loan, apply for housing to keep a roof over their head, check into a hotel, go to school or try to flag down a cab, they will not be turned away or denied service unfairly just because of who they are.

"We thank U.S. Reps. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) for shepherding this critically important bill through the House, and look forward to working with Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME),Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) to secure passage in the Senate. The Equality Act is long overdue.”

Lambda Legal provides resources for people who experience anti-LGBT discrimination. Check out Lambda Legal’s Know Your Rights Workplace resource page:


Contact Info

Contact: Tom Warnke 213-382-7600 ext. 247; Cell: 213-841-4503; Email:
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work. More at