Democrats on Tuesday reintroduced the
First introduced in 2015, 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.
Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline and
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley reintroduced the legislation at a press
conference in the Rayburn Room of the U.S. Capitol.
“It's long past time to guarantee
that equal protection under the law applies to every single American
regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that's
exactly what the Equality Act will accomplish,” Cicilline
Merkley added: “When we pass the
Equality Act, non-discrimination will be the law of the land here in
America and for all, and that day could not come sooner.”
Democrats appear united behind the
bill, with only four Democratic holdouts: Representatives Marcia
Fudge of Ohio and Dan Lipinski of Illinois and Senators Joe Manchin
of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
The bill, however, has the support of
only one Republican, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida,
who this weekend announced plans to retire from Congress next year.
Despite the lack of Republican support,
Cicilline expressed confidence that Congress would approve the bill
if Republicans leaders allowed a vote.
“I have every confidence that if the
bill came to the floor it would pass because I think most members of
Congress recognize voting to continue practices of discrimination
against individuals is un-American, and we would be successful in
passing it,” he said.
President Donald Trump has not said
whether he supports the proposed legislation. Given his support for
North Carolina's House Bill 2 – which blocked cities from enacting
LGBT protections and prohibited transgender people from using the
bathroom of their choice in many buildings – Trump's backing would