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Democratic leaders of the House and Senate held a press event Wednesday (March 13) to reintroduce H.R. 5, the Equality Act, during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol.
The Equality Act amends 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.
In a statement, the Equality Federation praised Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) in the House and Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for making the passage that has been introduced in various forms several times since 1974 a top priority for the new Congress.
Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director of Equality Federation, said, “As Americans, we believe that discrimination is wrong and that all of us deserve to be treated equally under the law. There should be a level playing field in every state and for that reason, signing this legislation into law is of critical importance to the LGBTQ community and to our country as a whole.”
Ian Palmquist, Senior Director of Programs, added, “As I travel across the country for work or to visit family, I shouldn’t feel that my civil rights are in jeopardy based on what zip code I happen to be in. All Americans should have the freedom to hold a job, rent an apartment, or go out to dinner knowing they are protected from discrimination.”
Rep. Cicilline said the Equality Act is needed because “millions of LGBTQ Americans are still less equal where they live.”
“We are reintroducing the Equality Act in order to fix this,” he said. “Enacting and protecting civil rights laws is one of the most important things we can do in this building.”
Rep. Merkley said the Act would create a national rule amid a patchwork of protections for LGBTQ people across the country where 30 states still have insufficient legal non-discrimination protections for queer people.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, the expected timeline for the Equality Act in the House is introduction this week, hearings in April and May, then a vote on the House floor in the May through July period to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
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