Equality Act Passage Heralded as Long Overdue Pushback against Religious License to Discriminate

For Immediate Release: May 17, 2019
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) wholeheartedly applauded the passage of the Equality Act (H.R. 5) today in the House of Representatives by a vote of 236–172, heralding the measure as a necessary and long overdue bulwark against discrimination.

Introduced in the House by David Cicilline, the Equality Act amends the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and amends other federal laws to include for the first time a prohibition on sex-based discrimination in places of public accommodation and in transportation services.

“An affirmative act of Congress to grant federal protection from discrimination to the LGBTQ community has been a long time coming—too long,” said Jason Lemieux, CFI’s Director of Government Affairs. “It would be a tragedy if the Senate now refused to advance this legislation.”

The Center for Inquiry was one of the original endorsers of the Equality Act and has remained a strong proponent since the bill’s introduction. In April, CFI issued an action alert urging our supporters to contact their representatives in support of the bill.

“It’s a real sign of positive change that the House has planted this flag for equal treatment under the law,” said Lemieux. “Now we call on Senators to follow suit and ensure protection for a community that’s so often discriminated against, often on grounds justified by a cynical definition of religious liberty.”

Discrimination excused by religious belief is one of the central threats addressed by the Equality Act. Religious ideology, and in particular Christian nationalism, is often used to excuse discrimination against LGBTQ people, along with atheists, women, the unmarried, and many others. Opponents of the Equality Act in the House agitated in defense of faith-based organizations that seek to discriminate in hiring and in the provision of services such as housing, education, credit lending, and public accommodation.

“Religion should never be allowed to excuse discrimination or to prop up a system of unequal protection,” said Lemieux. “CFI applauds those members of Congress who stood up today for a truly secular government of, by, and for the people.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.