WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are trying to pass a measure that would extend federal civil rights protections to LGBTQ people, but conservatives are pushing back.
“We need to stop this devastation legislation,” Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., said at a Thursday press event outside the Capitol. “This is an imminent threat to the common good.”
She’s part of a coalition of House Republicans and conservative groups opposing the Equality Act, which they have framed as the “Inequality Act.”
Democrats’ plan would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, making it illegal to discriminate against those who are gay or transgender. Many states have no such protections.
But opponents say the bill would “hijack” the Civil Rights Act, hurt women and infringe on religious freedoms.
“People need to oppose this anti-Constitution anti-religious freedom act,” Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, said.
The coalition delivered a scathing two-page letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., outlining their objections to the bill. It was signed by nearly three dozen conservative and religious groups.
But supporters are making noise as well, on Thursday delivering petitions with 170,000 signatures in support of the bill.
“We’re really vindicating the founding principles of this country,” said Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., who is openly gay and has been working on the plan for six years. “We will pass the Equality Act, which will once and for all prohibit legal discrimination.”
The House will vote on the measure Friday. It will be largely symbolic, as the plan will likely hit a stonewall in the Republican-controlled Senate.