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 to change.”

“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.