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Equality Act reintroduced in Congress

Congress
The United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo via Pixabay)

WASHINGTON — The Equality Act was reintroduced by House Democrats yesterday.

According to NBC OUT, the act would modify existing civil rights legislation to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, education, federal programs and credit.

From NBC OUT:

“In most states in this country, a gay couple can be married on Saturday, post their wedding photos to Instagram on Sunday, and lose their jobs or get kicked out of their apartments on Monday just because of who they are,” said David Cicilline, D-R.I., the bill’s main sponsor in the House and one of 10 openly LGBTQ members of Congress. “This is wrong.”

“We are reintroducing the Equality Act in order to fix this,” he added.

First introduced in 2015, the Equality Act is a version of a bill introduced in 1974. In addition to adding “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to the classes protected against discrimination by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the new bill specifies that it is illegal to discriminate against all protected classes in retail stores, emergency shelters, banks, transit and pharmacies, among other places.

“The Equality Act also clarifies that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) cannot be used in civil rights contexts, prohibiting religious liberty — which is a core American value — from being used as a license to discriminate,” the ACLU wrote in a press release.

A majority of states have no legal protection for LGBTQ people.

“No one’s civil rights should depend on the state or zip code they live in,” Equality Illinois said on their Facebook page. “Yesterday 239 Members of Congress introduced the bipartisan Equality Act, which would provide comprehensive anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans. This legislation says, unequivocally, that LGBTQ people deserve equal protection under the law. Equality Illinois is proud to fight alongside our partners to urge Congress to pass the #EqualityAct.”

Richard Burns, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Lambda Legal, said in a statement that “The Equality Act is essential because, while the legal landscape is evolving rapidly, LGBT Americans continue to face appalling, unjust discrimination in many aspects of their everyday lives. We know this from the thousands of calls Lambda Legal’s Help Desk gets each year from all corners of our country. Specifically, we know that workplace discrimination is one of the most frequent problems that LGBT people face.”

The Public Religion Research Institute said last year that 69% Americans favor laws that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in the job market, public accommodations, and housing. Even 55% of conservatives supported LGBTQ protections as did a majority of all people in each state.

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