Rhode Island Representative David
Cicilline was among the Democrats at a press conference last week
calling for a renewed push for federal LGBT protections.
Cicilline, who is openly gay, is the
lead sponsor of the Equality Act, which 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.
The proposal has not advanced since its
introduction last year. Cicilline said that that lack of action has
created an opportunity for states to act.
“As we all know, nature abhors
said. “And so, in recent weeks, we've seen state lawmakers who
have rushed to fill this vacuum with new laws that legalize
discrimination against the LGBT community.”
Cicilline said that more than 200 bills
targeting the LGBT community had been filed in 34 states this
“They range from allowing religion to
be used as an excuse for discrimination to laws denying transgender
individuals to use the facilities consistent with their gender
identity,” he said.
Cicilline and other Democrats at the
press conference, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority
Whip Steny Hoyer, announced that a letter calling on the chairman of
the House Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on the Equality Act
was signed by 116 lawmakers.
Representative Robert Dold of Illinois
is the sole Republican to co-sponsor the Equality Act.