Federal Issue: LGBTQ Equality

Equality Act

H.R. 5, introduced by Rep. David N. Cicilline, R.I.

The Equality Act was passed by the House in 2021 but it stalled in the Senate. This bill prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in 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.

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.

John Lewis Every Child Deserves a Family Act

H.R. 3488, introduced by Danny Davis, Il. 

This bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or religion in the provision of child welfare programs and services by entities receiving federal funding. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must provide technical assistance to help states follow this requirement, including (1) guidance for bringing state laws into compliance, (2) developing training to increase cultural competency related to social identity, and (3) training for judges and attorneys involved in child welfare cases, among other supports.

Additionally, HHS must establish the National Resource Center on Safety, Well-Being, Placement Stability, and Permanency for LGBTQ Children and Youth Involved with Child Welfare Services to provide training, technical assistance, and guidance to applicable state and local agencies and service providers.

Do No Harm Act

H.R. 1378, introduced by  Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Va.

This bill prohibits the application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) to specified federal laws or the implementation of such laws. Currently, RFRA prohibits the government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest when using the least restrictive means.

Under the bill, RFRA is inapplicable to laws or the implementation of laws that

The bill prevents RFRA from being used to deny (1) goods or services the government has contracted, granted, or made an agreement to provide to a beneficiary of or participant in a program or activity funded by such government contract, grant, agreement, or other award; or (2) a person’s full and equal enjoyment of a government-provided good, service, benefit, facility, privilege, advantage, or accommodation.

In order for a person to assert a RFRA claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, the government must be a party to the proceeding.