Illinois Senator Mark Kirk this week
announced his support for the Equality Act, making him the first
Senate Republican to back the proposed legislation.
Introduced by Democrats last year, the
Equality Act seeks to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in seven key
areas, including credit, education, employment, federal funding,
housing, jury service and public accommodations, by effectively
expanding the Civil Rights Act, originally approved in 1964.
“Discrimination on the basis of being
gay is against the law in Illinois and should be against the law
nationwide,” Kirk said in a statement given to the Washington
this month, Illinois Rep. Bob Dold became the first Republican to
co-sponsor the Equality Act.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human
Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate,
applauded Kirk's move.
“Senator Kirk has once again proven
his leadership, by becoming the first Republican Senator to
co-sponsor the Equality Act,” said Griffin. “His support for the
Equality Act sends a strong message that fairness and equality are
bipartisan values. It also reflects the view of the overwhelming
majority of all Americans who believe that everyone, including LGBT
people, should be able to have a fair chance to earn a living,
provide for their families, and live free from fear of
Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality
Illinois, added: “We hope other Senate Republicans will follow
Senator Kirk's leadership and, in the best tradition of their party,
allow each individual to flourish by prohibiting discrimination.”
House backs LGBT protections bill.)