Equality Act is creating a historic face-off between religious exemptions and LGBTQ rights

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03/16/2021

In some ways, full LGBTQ rights has never seemed more within reach. First came the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Then its decision last year banning LGBTQ discrimination in employment. And now, for the first time since those rulings, a Democratic-led Congress and a president who vows to pass sweeping legal protections by April. But the Trump era has empowered religious conservatives, who see more than 200 conservative federal judges, a conservative majority on the Supreme Court and a razor-thin majority in Congress that both sides know could flip in two or four years. The tensions created by this new, more equal balance of power between supporters of LGBTQ equality and religious freedom rights are erupting this week, when a comprehensive LGBTQ rights measure called the Equality Act comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We have one shot to get this done. We’ve been trying for 50 years,” said Kasey Suffredini, an attorney and transgender man who heads Freedom for All Americans, a group trying to build bipartisan consensus for the Equality Act.

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