The attention that Rowling's comments attracted have now stretched as far as the US Senate after a Republican representing Oklahoma quoted part of her essay as Democrats pushed for a vote on further protecting the LGBT+ community. The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act to prevent discrimination against people in employment, accommodation, funding and the legal system based upon their sexual orientation or gender identity.
As reported by The Washington Blade, James Lankford spoke out in opposition of the vote, effectively filibustering it. He claimed that the act needed to provide exemptions for religious liberty and privacy issues before going on to quote Rowling by saying:
We don’t want anyone to be discriminated against, anyone, but we can do this in a way that accommodates everyone, and that we can actually work towards agreement. To say in the words of J.K. Rowling this past week where she wrote, ‘all I’m asking, all I want is for similar empathy, similar understanding to be extended to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats or abuse.’ Let’s work together to get equality. This bill does not do it in this form.
Prior to this the Democratic senator Jeff Merkley, who was the chief sponsor of the bill had implored everyone in the Senate to vote for the bill which would give everyone "the opportunity for every individual to thrive in our nation."
This came shortly after the landmark decision in the Supreme Court on Monday which found that the ban on workplace sex discrimination in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was inclusive of discrimination based on orientation and identity.
Following that the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell was then pressured by a group of bipartisan senators to bring the Equality Act up for a vote, citing that the current laws provided an “insufficient recourse.” In a letter the senators wrote:
In a landmark victory for justice and equality, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that employers cannot unfairly fire or otherwise discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people in the workplace. However, current gaps in nondiscrimination laws leave many people subject to discrimination, which is why we urge you to schedule a vote to pass the Equality Act. The Equality Act would provide unequivocal nondiscrimination protections for people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity in a number of areas, including public spaces and services, housing, education, credit, jury service and federally funded programs, as well as explicitly codifying the Supreme Court’s holding regarding employment. By explicitly including sexual orientation and gender identity in civil rights laws, we can ensure that every person can live their life free from harassment and discrimination.
A vote on the Equality Act was passed by the Democratic-controlled House in June 2019 but by blocking it in the Senate, means that it will not be appearing on Donald Trump's desk in the near future. The Washington Blade report that the White House has already suggested that Trump would oppose the legislation due to an unspecified 'poison pill' within the bill.