WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, 46 Senators, led by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) re-introduced historic, comprehensive federal legislation to ban discrimination against LGBT Americans.
The legislation was filed simultaneously in the U.S. House of Representatives by 194 Representatives, led by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).
The Equality Act of 2017 would ensure full federal non-discrimination equality by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to other protected classes, such as race or religion, in existing federal laws.
The bill would explicitly ban discrimination in a host of areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, access to credit, and federal funding.
The bill would also add protections against sex discrimination in parts of anti-discrimination laws where these protections had not been included previously, including in public accommodations and federal funding.
“The Equality Act builds on the work of those who have struggled and fought for LGBT rights by extending basic civil rights protections that must be guaranteed to every American,” Senator Booker said. “We must never stop fighting to achieve justice for those who endure discrimination because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”
“For far too long, the door of discrimination has been slammed shut on LGBTQ Americans. It’s been slammed shut on equality, it’s been slammed shut on opportunity, and this must end,” said Senator Merkley. “It’s time to have the Equality Act on the floor of the House and the floor of the Senate for a full debate.”
“Every American deserves the freedom and opportunity to dream the same dreams, chase the same ambitions, and have the same shot at success,” said Senator Baldwin. “A growing number of Americans recognize that their LGBT family members, friends, and neighbors deserve to be treated like everyone else in the United States. Yet today in America, in the majority of states, LGBT Americans live without the protection of fully-inclusive non-discrimination laws. I believe America is ready to take the next steps forward in the march for fairness, equality, and opportunity for every American. It is time to take bold legislative action. The Equality Act will help us ensure that we are passing on to the next generation a country that is more equal, not less.”
Despite major advances in equality for LGBT Americans, including nationwide marriage equality, the majority of states still do not have explicit LGBT non-discrimination protection laws.
In addition to Booker, Merkley, and Baldwin, 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), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), 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).
The full text of the Equality Act of 2017 is available here.