Eleven former Republican members of
Congress are calling on the Senate to approve The Equality Act.
The Equality Act is a federal LGBTQ
protections bill that stalled in Senate after clearing the House.
The letter addressed to Congressional
leaders was spearheaded by former Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen,
a Republican from Florida. During her time in Congress, Ros-Lehtinen
was a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights.
“The status quo is not working for
LGBTQ Americans nor is it emblematic of our country's founding values
of freedom, fairness, and equality,” the letter states.
The Equality Act would prohibit
discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in
public accommodations, employment, housing, and education. Despite
Democratic control of the Senate, the bill is unlikely to reach
President Joe Biden's desk without Republican support.
During a White House Pride Event,
President Joe Biden signed an executive order expanding LGBTQ rights
and called on the Senate to approve The Equality Act.
Speaking with the Washington Blade,
Ros-Lehtinen said that the bill was needed to guarantee such rights
in states where lawmakers have failed to protect the LGBTQ community
or enacted legislation against the community.
“The sad truth is that in our
wonderful nation, it is still permissible to discriminate against
individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,”
said. “We need federal protections and not a patchwork of state
laws that may or may not grant protection from this unfair
discrimination. I urge the U.S. Senate to pass the Equality Act which
will grant this protection.”
The letter was signed by former
Representatives Ros-Lehtinen, Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), Carlos
Curbelo (R-Fla.), Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Jim
Kolbe (R-Ariz.), Claudine Schneider (R-R.I.), Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Jim
Greenwood (R-Pa.), Chris Shays (R-Conn.), and Steve Gunderson
They argue in their letter that
“bipartisan leadership on this issue is possible.”
“Americans from all walks of life –
across political party, demographics, and geography – support
protections and are ready for Congress to act. The current Congress
has momentum and the go-ahead from the public to outlaw LGBTQ
discrimination once and for all,” they wrote.
At least 10 Republican senators are
needed for the legislation to clear the Senate.