With the midterm elections taking place on 6 November, many are hoping for a ‘blue wave’. A blue wave would mean Democrats retaking control in Congress.
Should the Democrats become the majority in the House of Representatives again, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has promised to make the Equality Act — a law banning discrimination against LGBTI people nationwide — a top priority.
The Washington Blade reports Pelosi’s announcement of this promise on Tuesday, 16 October. Pelosi spoke at an event at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Pelosi’s Equality Act comments
‘It isn’t in our “For The People” agenda because it doesn’t get that specific. But there’s one more because it’s personal for me that I really want to do. It’s called the Equality Act,’ Pelosi said at the event.
‘The Equality Act expands ending discrimination against LGBTQ people and women and adding that to the Civil Rights Act.’
What is the Equality Act?
The Equality Act was first introduced by Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) in the House and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) in the Senate. This Act would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act to add protections for women and LGBTI people. Such protections would include banning anti-LGBTI discrimination in housing, employment, education, public accommodations, etc.
The bill also seeks to update federal law to include sex in its list of protected classes. It would also expand the definition of public accommodations to include retail stores, banks, transportation services, and healthcare services.
Moreover, the Equality Act would mandate that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1994 law aimed at protecting religious liberty, can’t be used to discriminate against LGBTI people.
What people are saying
‘In the House, the majority will signal a piece of legislation is a top priority by assigning it a bill number between 1 and 10,’ Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill told the Washington Blade.
‘Leader Pelosi has decided the Equality Act will get one of these priority bill numbers, indicating its importance to House Democrats.’
‘Discrimination is a real and persistent problem for far too many LGBTQ Americans. More than 50 percent of LGBTQ Americans live in states that lack LGBTQ-inclusive statewide protections,’ Stephen Peters, a Human Rights Campaign spokesperson, told the Blade.
‘It’s imperative that Congress end this patchwork of protections by passing the Equality Act — crucially important federal legislation that would finally add clear, comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people to our nation’s civil rights laws.’