Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Equality Act ReIntroduced In Congress

The Equality Act, which would provide nationwide protections to LGBTQ Americans against discrimination, was re-introduced in Congress today.
Will Donald Trump announce his support for newly-introduced Equality Act?

The Equality Act, which would provide nationwide protections to LGBTQ Americans against discrimination, was re-introduced in Congress today.

The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, federal jury service, public accommodations, and the use of federal funds. Additionally, the legislation would ensure the 1994 Religious Freedom Restoration Act could not be used for anti-LGBTQ bias.

Currently, only 20 states and Washington, D.C. have explicit protections in place for LGBTQ citizens.

Although introduced in 2015 and 2017, this is the first time the legislation has been filed with Democrats in charge of at least one chamber of Congress. In the prior Congresses, the bill never made it out of committee.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), acting as chief sponsors of the Equality Act in their respective chambers, held a press conference today celebrating the news.

Noting the lack of protections in 30 states, Cicilline announced, “We are reintroducing the Equality Act in order to fix this. Enacting and protecting civil rights laws is one of the most important things we can do in this building.”

In those states, LGBTQ people can be fired or thrown out of their apartments just for being gay. Addressing such insufficient protections, Merkley announced, “It’s well past time to change that. So, let’s pass a national Equality Act and let’s do it this year.”

The bill is expected to easily pass in the Democratic-controlled House, but with a Republican majority in the Senate, the legislation’s fate is less sure.

There are more than 230 co-sponsors in the House, more than the necessary 218 votes needed for passage.

Two Republicans have co-sponsored the bill in the House - Rep. John Kapko (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) - and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is the lone Republican to sign on in the Senate.

As Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade points out, in 2000 Donald Trump told The Advocate that he supported amending the Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation.

It's notable that 164 major corporations have publicly announced their support for the Equality Act including Apple, American Airlines, Bank of America, Target and more.

After today’s announcement, there will be hearings regarding the bill in the House over the next several weeks. LGBTQ American could expect a full House vote sometime in May or June, which would appropriately coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots which launched the modern push for LGBTQ rights.

New polling from the Public Religion Research Institute, released on Tuesday, shows widespread support (69%) across the U.S. for LGBTQ non-discrimination laws.

In fact, every state in the country shows majority support for laws that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination at work, housing and public accommodations.

(h/t Washington Blade)

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