Democrats on Thursday announced the
introduction of the Equality Act.
The Equality Act seeks to add
protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and
gender identity to existing civil rights laws in key areas such as
employment, credit, housing, federally-funded programs, and public
accommodations. It also prohibits the use of the Religious Freedom
Restoration Act to enable anti-LGBT discrimination.
Rhode Island Representative David
Cicilline, who is openly gay, and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley
sponsored the legislation.
“In 2021, every American should be
treated with respect and dignity,” Cicilline said in a statement.
“Yet, in most states, LGBTQ people can be discriminated against
because of who they are, or who they love. It is past time for that
“I'm proud to introduce the Equality
Act today, and I look forward to continue to work with Senator
Merkley to get this bill signed into law,” he added.
“All of us go to work and school, go
home, and go shopping, and none of us should have to keep our
families hidden or pretend to be someone we're not to do those
things,” Merkley said. “But in 29 states, Americans can still be
evicted, be thrown out of a restaurant, or be denied a loan because
of who they are or whom they love. We all love the vision of America
as a land of freedom and equality, but are we willing to take the
steps to make that vision closer to reality?”
“Let's make 2021 the year the
Equality Act crosses the finish line and is signed into law by
President Biden,” he added.
Earlier in the week, House Majority
Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, announced that the
House will vote on the Equality Act next week
The Biden administration has made
passage of the Equality Act a priority. In the House, which passed
the bill last year, passage seems likely. With Democrats in control
of the Senate, the legislation is likely to reach the floor, but
passage rests in the hands of Republicans because to clear the threat
of a filibuster, Democrats – in addition to remaining united –
must round up ten GOP votes.
On Tuesday, Utah Senator Mitt Romney,
who was in the maybe column, announced
he is opposed to the bill.