President Joe Biden on Friday called on
Congress to approve the Equality Act.
“I urge Congress to swiftly pass this
historic legislation,” Biden said in a statement.
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.
The bill was introduced on Thursday by
Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline, who is openly gay, and
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley.
“Every person should be treated with
dignity and respect, and this bill represents a critical step toward
ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality
and freedom for all,” Biden said.
“Full equality has been denied to
LGBTQ+ Americans and their families for far too long. Despite the
extraordinary progress the LGBTQ+ community has made to secure their
basic civil rights, discrimination is still rampant in many areas of
our society. The Equality Act provides long overdue federal civil
rights protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender
identity, locking in critical safeguards in our housing, education,
public services, and lending systems – and codifying the courage
and resilience of the LGBTQ+ movement into enduring law,” he added.
The legislation is expected to be voted
on in the House next week. The House approved the bill last year and
is widely expected to do the same during this legislative session.
The bill needs 10 GOP votes to clear
the Senate if Democrats remain united.
On Tuesday, Utah Senator Mitt Romney,
who was in the maybe column, announced
he is opposed to the bill.
Biden said that passage of the Equality
Act was needed to secure protections for LGBT Americans after he
signed an executive order directing federal agencies to implement the
Supreme Court's ruling in Bostock. The high court ruled in
that case that discrimination against LGBT people is a form of sex
discrimination. Bostock specifically prohibits anti-LGBT
discrimination in the workplace.
“On my first day in office, I was
proud to sign an Executive Order on Preventing and Combating
Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual
Orientation,” Biden said. “I directed agencies to implement the
Supreme Court’s Bostock ruling, and fully enforce Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other laws that prohibit
discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
Now, it’s time for Congress to secure these protections once and
for all by passing the Equality Act – because no one should ever
face discrimination or live in fear because of who they are or whom