Reports: Equality Act in Biden's First 100 Days Might Not be Possible

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday January 15, 2021

LGBTQ equality advocates heard in a recent conference call that President-elect Joe Biden might not be able to keep a campaign promise: Passing the Equality Act in the incoming administration's first 100 days.

It's not a question of political will, LGBTQ Nation noted. "Now that Democrats control the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House, the bill has a solid chance of passing into law.

"But multiple crises in Washington will slow the process," the news site added. "The bill will be handled by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the same committee that's handling Trump's impeachment proceedings."

Moreover, it "may be difficult in the face of the coronavirus vaccine rollout" on top of impeachment proceedings for the administration to fast-track passage of the Equality Act, LGBTQ Nation noted.

Some equality advocates expressed disappointment at the news, but others agreed that there are matters that must take higher priority.

"I think we've gotten the commitments that we expected and hoped for and sought from the Biden team and from legislative leadership, and what that means for us now is holding them accountable, but also understanding that the country, our democracy, and the ability of people to actually live is going to take priority," on advocated who had participated in the conference call told the Washington Blade.

The Equality Act proposes an amendment to the Civil Rights Acts of 1964. The fix would extend federal nondiscrimination protections on the basis of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." The Act was first introduced in 1974, and has been modified and reintroduced from time to time, most recently in 2019, when the Democrat-led House passed the legislation. The Act has been mired in the Republican-led Senate since then.

"I will make enactment of the Equality Act a top legislative priority during my first 100 days - a priority that Donald Trump opposes," Biden declared last October, before he went on to win the election.

Events since then have complicated the political picture, even though Democrats won two runoff elections in Georgia earlier this month that gave them a bare majority in the Senate. LGBTQ Nation noted that "the true problem lies with a handful of moderate Republicans needed to advance the bill to a vote.

"60 votes are needed to end debate and proceed to a vote. With Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris' vote, Democrats would only have 51 votes."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.