Georgia delegation splits along party lines on LGBTQ protections in Equality Act

People head down Peachtree Street with flags during the Atlanta Pride Parade Sunday, October 15, 2017.  STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
People head down Peachtree Street with flags during the Atlanta Pride Parade Sunday, October 15, 2017. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

The U.S. House passed the bill Thursday; Senate vote up next

WASHINGTON — Every Democrat in the U.S. House, including all six from Georgia, voted in favor of a bill to extend federal civil rights protections to the LGBTQ community.

The Equality Act passed on a mostly party-line vote with just three Republicans in favor. The final vote was 224-206, and all eight Georgia Republicans opposed the measure.

The bill would expand the reach of the Civil Rights Act, banning discrimination based upon a person’s gender identity and sexual orientation. The Democratic-led House first passed the Equality Act in 2019, but at the time the Senate was controlled by Republicans who refused to take up the bill.

Now, the Senate and White House are both in Democrats’ hands. However, Republicans could still use the filibuster to derail a vote in the Senate.

Several Democrats, including U.S. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, brought up the late Georgia Congressman John Lewis during a press conference ahead of the vote. Lewis was a champion of gay rights during his nearly 34-year tenure in Congress and lent crucial support to the Equality Act in previous attempts at passage.

ExploreJohn Lewis saw in gay rights a movement like civil rights

Georgia U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene slowed down action on the measure by forcing votes Wednesday and Thursday on adjourning the House. The Rome Republican said the bill discriminates against women and violates religious freedoms, but she was unsuccessful in preventing a vote on the measure.

U.S. Rep. Marie Newman, whose office is located across the hall from Greene’s, decided to send a message to Greene on Wednesday by displaying a light blue, pink and white flag in the corridor. Newman, a Democrat from Illinois, has a transgender daughter.

“Our neighbor, @RepMTG, tried to block the Equality Act because she believes prohibiting discrimination against trans Americans is ‘disgusting, immoral, and evil,’” Newman wrote on Twitter. “Thought we’d put up our Transgender flag so she can look at it every time she opens her door.”

Greene responded by putting up an anti-trans sign outside her door, and she also posted transphobic comments on social media about Newman’s daughter and the legislation.

LGBTQ advocates in Georgia applauded the vote. “The harsh reality is that discrimination is a real and persistent problem for LGBTQ people across the country, especially in Georgia,” Georgia Equality’s executive director, Jeff Graham, said in a statement. “The Equality Act passing the House of Representatives is a huge step in the right direction.”

HOW THEY VOTED ON H.R. 5, the Equality Act

“Yes”

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Suwanee

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta

U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta

U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta

“No”

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler

U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro

U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton

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