The newly-elected Democrat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives wasted no time in adopting rule changes that ban employment discrimination against LGBT people in the lower chamber and requires House members to take ethics training.
The House last week voted and adopted a rules package that will govern the House's operations for the entirety of the 116th Congress.
Included in the rules package were three proposals authored by openly gay Rep. David Cicilline, D-RI, who co-chairs the LGBT Equality Caucus.
The package includes "anti-discrimination protections" that Cicilline's office says will "ensure LGBT House employees are treated equally in the workplace." The provision bans employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
"The new requirements closely mirror employment protections that Cicilline has introduced as part of the Equality Act – his bipartisan, comprehensive bill to extend anti-discrimination protections to all LGBT Americans," a press release reads.
Among other things, the Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to sexual orientation and gender identity among the social categories that are protected from discrimination under the law.
The bill defines "sex" to include things like sex stereotypes, sexual orientation, pregnancy, childbirth, and gender identity.
The bill also expands the definition of public accommodation. Under the law, the Department of Justice could bring a civil action on the basis of things like being denied equal used of a public facility (like a bathroom or locker room) owned and operated by the state. However, public schools and colleges seem to be exempt from that part of the bill.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has vowed to pass the Equality Act in the new Congress. However, the legislation is likely to face opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate. "[P]rotecting the rights of LGBT employees is just the right thing to do," Cicilline said in a statement. "After years of Republican mismanagement, Democrats are going to get Congress working again."