Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday that would expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to cover people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
In an op-ed to The Advocate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said that the inclusion of “diverse, dynamic new members” of Congress this year helped bring the Equality Act to the forefront.
“[W]e are bringing our nation closer to its founding promise of full equality by introducing the Equality Act — to finally, fully end discrimination against LGBTQ Americans,” they wrote in the piece published Wednesday.
Pelosi and Cicilline ensured that LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) people would have equal rights and protections “not just in the workplace, but in education, housing, credit, jury service and public accommodations as well.”
The Equality Act has enormous support in the House and is likely to pass. According to NBC News, the legislation has 239 cosponsors.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 13, 2019
Public opinion is also in the Democrats’ favor. According to a poll from Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), more than half of Americans in every state support legislation that ensures nondiscrimination for LGBT people.
But states don’t reflect that support in their laws. There is no legislation in place in over half of the states that protects LGBT people from discrimination, meaning they could legally be fired or kicked out of their homes for their identity.
It’s unclear if the bill will pass in the Republican-controlled Senate, but the Equality Act has captured the attention of 2020 Democratic hopefuls, ensuring it will stay in the national conversation.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the only LGBT candidate in the race so far. He threw his support behind the act at a CNN town hall this weekend and in a tweet Wednesday.
“We need to end the war on trans Americans,” Buttigieg said at the town hall in Austin, Texas, “and we need a federal equality act that would say you cannot be fired just because of who you are or just because of who you love.”
Watch the video below:
I strongly support the #EqualityAct proposed by Congressman @davidcicilline. We need a Federal Equality Act that says you cannot be discriminated against just because of who you are or just because of who you love. pic.twitter.com/L6Dj4rsP2N
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) March 13, 2019
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) took charge of co-sponsoring the act in the Senate.
“No one should be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love,” she wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “It’s past time for us to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the Civil Rights Act.”
No one should be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love. It's past time for us to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the Civil Rights Act. Proud to cosponsor the #EqualityAct with my Democratic colleagues today.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) March 13, 2019
Former Vice President Joe Biden has only treated a 2020 announcement so far, but he made his stance on the Equality Act clear.
No one should live in fear of being fired, evicted from their home, or denied service in a restaurant just because of their gender identity or who they love. The #EqualityAct is long overdue, and will ensure LGBTQ Americans are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 14, 2019
“No one should live in fear of being fired, evicted from their home, or denied service in a restaurant just because of their gender identity or who they love,” he tweeted Wednesday.
#EqualityAct is long overdue, and will ensure LGBTQ Americans are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”