Senate building with LGBTQ color overlay

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Equality Act reintroduced into Congress, and LGBTQ activists are hopeful

LGBTQ activists say the Equality Act will bring about much-needed federal protections.

May 3, 2017, 12:46 pm*

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Ana Valens

The Equality Act has just been reintroduced into Congress, and 241 lawmakers have pledged their support for the legislation.

Previously introduced in 2015, the bill’s 2017 reiteration is sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). The bill amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964, providing antidiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex across the nation in matters of employment, housing, credit, jury selection, public education, and public accommodation discrimination.

Senator Merkley Introduces Equality Act

Watch LIVE: Congressman David Cicilline and I are introducing the Equality Act, historic legislation to ban discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. Every person deserves to live free from fear of discrimination, regardless of who they are or whom they love. Enacting the Equality Act will bring us another significant step forward in our nation’s long march towards inclusion and equality. I deeply appreciate being joined by so many today: Senator Chuck Schumer Senator Tammy Baldwin Cory Booker House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi Human Rights Campaign Center for American Progress National Center for Transgender Equality The National Center for Lesbian Rights ACLU Nationwide National LGBTQ Task Force National Women's Law Center Lambda Legal Family Equality Council on this historic day.

Posted by Senator Jeff Merkley on Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Equality Act was originally developed in 1974 by Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.) with aid from then-Rep. Ed Koch (D-N.Y.). While the bill died in the House, the Equality Act of 2015 was later reintroduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

When the Equality Act was introduced in 2015, the bill received over 200 co-sponsors but did not come up for a vote. With the introduction of the Equality Act of 2017, activists hope the legislation may have a chance at becoming a federal law.

“The Equality Act represents a simple idea, that everyone, including members of the LGBT community, is entitled to equal treatment under the law, and the right to live free of discrimination,” Rep. Cicilline said during a press conference. “But today, in most states, you can get married on Saturday, post your wedding photos on Facebook on Sunday, and get fired from your job or kicked out of your apartment on Monday just because of who you are.”

LGBTQ organizations have backed their full support into the bill, hoping that the Equality Act’s terms can bring federal protections to LGBTQ citizens across the nation.

“No person’s fundamental rights should be determined by which side of a state line they live on,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “The Equality Act will once and for all end the unacceptable patchwork of non-discrimination laws across this country that leaves LGBTQ people at risk.”

H/T LGBTQ Nation

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*First Published: May 3, 2017, 12:45 pm