Maloney Presides Over House Floor to Pass Historic Equality Act – a Victory for All LGBTQ Americans
WASHINGTON – Today, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), presided over the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives during the historic 236-173 vote to pass H.R. 5, the Equality Act, to ensure that all LGBTQ Americans are granted full protections guaranteed by federal civil rights law. This vote marks the first time a chamber of Congress has approved a comprehensive LGBTQ civil rights bill. The legislation would extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans with regard to employment, education, access to credit, jury service, federal funding, housing and public accommodations.
“Right now in 28 states, my family could be evicted from our home just because I’m gay. My husband, Randy, could be fired from his job because we’re married. It’s crazy – you step across a state line and suddenly you can be legally discriminated against just because of who you are or who you love,” said Rep. Maloney. “That’s plain wrong. We’re more than five decades behind where we should be on fulfilling the promises of the Equality Act, and we’ve still got a long way to go - but today we got one step closer.”
Before this unprecedented vote, Rep. Maloney took to the House floor to speak on behalf of this legislation. The transcript is available below.
Madam Speaker, I rise to support the Equality Act. I will not repeat the many eloquent things my colleagues have said about the importance of the proposed legislation, though I will thank the gentlemen from New York, from Rhode Island for their leadership and others.
Nor will I refute the many foolish and false things said on the other side. This is landmark and essential civil rights protection for those who now don’t have it. It is no more, it is no less than others enjoy.
It respects the first amendment, and the exercise of religion in exactly the same way as we do now for every other civil rights context. It puts the law on the side of those who continue to face insidious discrimination based not on their character, but on who they are.
Many others have said this better than I will, but Madam Speaker I do want to speak to one group of my colleagues. Those who know this is a good bill, and yet today will vote no. To those colleagues, I ask you to consider the score.
In this chamber we are all familiar with scores. A score is what some powerful group usually threatens us with when they fear we’ll vote for something because we believe it is the right thing to do. It often works that way, “We believe a vote is right, but don’t vote that way,” they say, “or we will score it against you.”
That’s how Washington scores. But history scores differently. Conscience has its own rules. Decency sees something beyond such agendas. History records the good, conscience aligns with what is right, decency endures the unfair attacks and protects what truly matters.
This is a good and simple bill of extraordinary historical importance. It sits high above our daily considerations. Each of us in our careers will be lucky if we come to this floor on a single day when history is made, on a day when by our vote we can count ourselves among those who have cared for, who have nurtured the original promise embedded in our founding documents.
Others have done much more than we will do today or any day; on the battlefield, at Seneca Falls, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, or simply in their daily dignified decision to love their neighbors as themselves. My colleagues I know you, I know you are good and decent people. Let conscience guide us to the right, and please support this bill.