WASHINGTON (WHTM) — The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act on Thursday, and the legislation is now heading to the Senate.
In Pennsylvania, there are no protections in place to prevent members of the LGBT community from getting fired from their job or denied housing simply because of their identities.
The Equality Act would put an end to that at the federal level by making sure people are not discriminated against for their gender identity or sexual orientation.
“There’s no place we can’t go. There’s no place we can’t be hired. There’s no place we can’t be served. There’s no reason for anybody to say, ‘Hey, you can’t do that,'” said Joanne Carroll, Trans Advocacy Pennsylvania executive director.
Carroll said the legislation isn’t just life-changing, it’s likely life-saving.
“Teenagers and young adults — the suicide rates are probably in excess of 50 percent because they recognize the barriers that are there, but they just can’t overcome them,” Carroll said.
A transgender woman who has overcome a lot herself was also in the spotlight on Thursday, making strides for the community.
“I am both humbled by the opportunity and ready for the job,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, assistant health secretary nominee.
“I think it’s amazing that both of those things occurred on the same day. I mean, that’s enough to get my emotions going,” Carroll said.
While Dr. Levine was there to talk about her experience, she was grilled about puberty blockers and genital mutilation.
“I would certainly be pleased to come to your office and talk with you and your staff about the standards of care and complexities of this field,” Dr. Levine said.
Carroll said the comments were off-base and filled with inaccuracies, but as a longtime friend of Dr. Levine’s, she’s not worried. She said resilience, along with medicine, is Dr. Levine’s specialty.
“Can she do the job, and she can. She’s done it in Pennsylvania, and she’s done it to accolades of so many in the scientific community,” Carroll said.
While the Equality Act passed the House with ease, it will be much more of an uphill battle in the Senate.
Opponents of the bill said it could infringe on people’s rights.