Now that the Equality Act has passed the House, the question is, what’s next?
For starters, the Senate would be on the hook for its version of the Equality Act. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he has no plans to bring the Equality Act, which has 46 bipartisan cosponsors, up to a vote. Even if the Senate did decide to vote, according to The Advocate at least 13 Republican members would have to join the Democrats in support to avoid a filibuster (barring no Democrats defect).
“It's hard to move something if Mitch McConnell is going to block it,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) told Out in an interview in April. “But, I think you don't just give up before you've engaged. We hope we can have a debate on it in the Senate. And then, we use the large coalition of civil rights organizations — over 200 that have endorsed the bill — we all work together to talk about how necessary it is.”
Additionally, one advocate told The Washington Blade, that Sen. Jeff Merkley would attempt a “test vote” in the Senate through adding an amendment to another bill.
But even if it were to miraculously pass the Senate, President Trump would need to sign the bill, but a senior administration official told The Blade on Monday that his administration is expected to officially come out in opposition to the Equality Act.
“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights,” the senior administration official told The Blade’s Chris Johnson.
Currently 26 states have no specific protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, which means LGBTQ+ people could be fired, treated unfairly in schools, or barred from public services because of their identities, with little to no legal recourse. Meanwhile, attempts to bar discrimination against LGBTQ+ people through federal laws have gone unsuccessful for decades.
“I do believe that a lot of folks, not only across America, but even within the LGBTQ community, who think that once the marriage equality case was decided that formal equality was achieved,” Baldwin said. “And so, educating around the fact that [a majority of] states still lack full protections is a key to advancing this.”