Democrats in the US House of Representatives and US Senate today introduced The Equality Act which essentially seeks to expand the nation’s civil rights law to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.
The proposed legislation – the most expansive for LGBTI people in the nation’s history – seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, credit, education and jury service.
It also seeks to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex by those receiving federal funding and in public accommodations.
The legislation is sponsored by senators Jeff Merkley, Tammy Baldwin and Corry Booker and representatives David Cicilline and John Lewis (D-GA).
‘Introduction of this law is a historic step for Equality in this country,’ Baldwin said of the bill.
Baldwin, the first out lesbian to serve in the senate, later took to Twitter to tout the legislation.
‘Employees should hired, fired or promoted based on their performance – not their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equality Act is about whether
#LGBT Americans deserve to be treated just like everyone else.We need to ensure every American has a fair chance to earn a living & provide for their family, including #LGBT Americans. #EqualityForward.
The proposed legislation comes approximately one month after the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states.
After that ruling, LGBTI activists began to focus on the fact that in 31 states, someone could marry their same-sex partner on a Friday and get fired for being gay when they return to work on Monday.
Lambda Legal’s Jennifer C. Pizer calls the legislation ‘ a crucial next step forward’ in ending that discrimination.
‘It spotlights the pervasive, unjust, and unacceptable discrimination facing LGBT Americans and their families,’ states Pizer who is director of Lambda Legal’s Law and Policy Project.
Pizer points out that less than have the states in the US have clear statutory bans on discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, and education.
‘The Equality Act is an answer to this inadequate patchwork of protections because it is a broad federal statute protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people across the entire country and throughout their daily lives.’
James Esseks, director of the LGBT Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, called it ‘a historic day that has been decades in the making.’
‘We urge Congress to take up this landmark bill and make our country a more just nation for all.’