The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual identity and gender identity.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is promising to pass the Equality Act, which would make sexual orientation and gender identity federally protected classes, within the first 100 days of his administration should be be elected president in next week’s election.
“I will make enactment of the Equality Act a top legislative priority during my first 100 days – a priority that Donald Trump opposes,” Biden said in an interview with Philadelphia Gay News publisher Mark Segal.
The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, and national origin, to include sexual identity and gender identity.
The Democratic House majority passed the Equality Act in May of last year, but the Republican-controlled Senate has declined to pass the bill and send it to the president’s desk. Democrats hope to gain a majority in the Senate in Tuesday’s general election, which would clear a path to the upper chamber passing the bill.
Critics have voiced concerns that the bill undermines religious freedom by forcing private businesses and religious groups to acquiesce to progressive interpretations of gender and sex, including by forcing health care providers to recommend care that affirms the self-professed gender identities of minors.
The Trump administration expressed opposition to the legislation last year, saying it is “filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”
At least 20 states including California, Colorado, and Massachusetts, have passed laws that include some of the Equality Act’s provisions.
Biden also pledged in the interview to use “America’s full range of diplomatic tools” to support American diplomats who stand up for human rights in countries that are hostile to LGBT people.
“I’ll stand up to bullies and once more put human rights at the center of America’s engagement with the world,” Biden said.