Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are among the 45 co-sponsors of the Equality Act in the United States Senate, and Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Collin Peterson, Rick Nolan, and Tim Walz are among the 194 co-sponsors in the House.
The bill (1006 and 2282) would amend the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Jury Selection and Services Act, and several other non-discrimination laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill also changes the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which has been used to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people, and amend it to put more burden on employers and service providers than on victims of discrimination.
The bill’s introduction was led by Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey in the Senate and Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island in the House.
“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,” Merkley said in a statement. “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 Sen. 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.”
All of the bill’s sponsors are Democrats with the exception of the Senate’s two independents (Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine) and one Republican in the House, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.