House Committee Passes Equality Act

May 03, 2019

The House Judiciary Committee approved the HR Policy-supported Equality Act (H.R. 5), which would add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to federal civil rights laws.

The Committee rejected three Republican amendments to:

  • Allow employers to use the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a defense for Title VII discrimination claims;

  • Ensure that the law does not result in biological females being required to face competition from biological males in any sporting event; and

  • Provide that health professionals are not required to affirm the self-professed gender identity of a minor. 

Republicans also raised concerns about the courts determining the “appearance, mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics” that identify an individual’s “gender identity.”

Outlook:  The bill is expected to be passed by the House within the next few months.  Senate action in the current Congress is considered unlikely.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider in its next term whether Title VII protections apply to sexual orientation and gender identity.  The case will very likely propel the issue to greater prominence in the 2020 presidential campaign.