Newly-elected members of the US House of Representatives may finally passing federal legislation to protect LGBTI Americans from discrimination.
Last week, House speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to make passing the Equality Act a ’top priority’.
‘We will make America fairer by passing the Equality Act to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community’ the Democrat lawmaker said.
‘We are going to once and for all pass the Equality Act in the Congress of the United States’ congressman David Cicilline committed.
The Equality Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was first introduced to the House in 2015.
It would outlaw discrimination against LGBTI citizens in work and services across the country.
What’s more, the Democrats now have a majority in the House. Importantly, the liberal-leaning party will be able to more easily enact equality legislation.
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) January 7, 2019
‘Now is the time’
Importantly, the move to finally enact protections was welcomed by LGBTI activists in the US.
Currently, about 50 percent of LGBTI Americans live in one of 30 states with no legal protection against discrimination based on their sexuality or gender identity. This is according to LGBTI advocacy group Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
HRC president Chad Griffin said ‘now is the time to move equality forward’.
‘Far too many LGBTQ people face unfair and unjust discrimination each and every day with only a patchwork of protections across the country’.
‘We are thankful for Speaker Pelosi reaffirming her commitment to advance this critically important legislation and seize this historic moment to make full federal LGBTQ equality a reality.’
Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of the LGBT media watchdog group GLAAD, also said it was a ‘welcome relief’.
‘Now it’s time for them to roll up their sleeves and get to work for all marginalized communities, including LGBTQ Americans,’ she told the Washington Blade.
After passing the House, however, the bill may face resistance in the Republican-held Senate, observers warn.
Rights advocates have also criticized Republican President Donald Trump for his anti-LGBTI policies.