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Booker, Baldwin, Merkley Lead Senate Introduction of Landmark LGBTQ Rights Bill

The Equality Act would ensure that LGBTQ Americans are protected by federal non-discrimination laws

March 13, 2019
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today introduced historic, comprehensive federal legislation -- the Equality Act of 2019 -- to explicitly ban discrimination against LGBTQ Americans. They were joined by 43 of their Senate colleagues.

The legislation was filed simultaneously in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), joined by 293 Representatives.

"We cannot profess to be a nation of liberty and justice for all when our fellow Americans are discriminated against simply because of who they are and who they love," Booker said. "The Equality Act fixes this injustice by clarifying that federal civil rights law protects LGBT Americans. Every single LGBT American who has ever been made to feel like they don't belong, who has ever been bullied, abused, or discriminated against because of who they are and who they love should know that, in the halls of Congress and in the highest levels of the federal government, we see you, we hear you, we love you."

"It is just wrong that in a majority of states, LGBTQ Americans are not fully protected from being fired, evicted from their home, or denied services because of who they are or who they love. It is time to end this kind of discrimination because LGBTQ Americans should have the freedom of full equality," said Senator Baldwin. "Every American deserves the freedom and opportunity to dream the same dreams, chase the same ambitions, and have the same shot at success. We have an opportunity to pass the Equality Act in the House this year and this will be an historic step forward but we can't mistake progress for victory. That will only come when we bring about the change we need in Washington to get the job done on full equality for every LGBTQ American across our country."

"Freedom is the ability to fully participate in American life. Today, the bell of freedom does not ring for LGBTQ Americans, who still face legalized discrimination in 29 states," said Merkley. "It is way past time to fully open the doors of opportunity for every American. Let's pass the Equality Act. Let's do it this year. And let us rejoice in the bells of freedom ringing for every American."

Despite major advances in equality for LGBTQ Americans, including nationwide marriage equality, the majority of states still do not have explicit LGBTQ non-discrimination protection laws.

The Equality Act of 2019 would clarify that federal civil rights law prohibits the discrimination of people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bill would explicitly ban discrimination in a host of areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, access to credit, and federal funding.

In addition to Merkley, Baldwin, Booker, and Schumer, the legislation is cosponsored in the Senate by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).