The Equality Act Introduced to Congress with Over 230 Co-Sponsors
US Representative David Cicilline and Senator Jeff Merkley introduced the Equality Act this afternoon, a landmark bill to secure the rights of tens of millions of LGBTQ people across the country.
The Equality Act would update federal civil rights laws to explicitly include gender identity and sexual orientation as classes protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education, businesses that serve the public, credit, jury service, and federally-funded programs. Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear the Equality Act is “a top priority” for the pro-equality majority of the House, as shown the bill’s astounding count of over 230 co-sponsors.
The Equality Act is an instrumental first step to reducing the stigma and prejudice endured by transgender people across the country. According to the US Transgender Survey, transgender people are three times as likely to be unemployed, twice as likely to live in poverty, and one in six has lost a job because of their gender identity. Additionally, One in three transgender people report experiencing homelessness in their lifetime and one in eight experienced in the last year.
Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia have statewide nondiscrimination laws clearly protecting transgender people. Over the last two decades, most federal courts have found transgender people are protected from discrimination in many areas by federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, and health care.
The Trump administration has refused to enforce those laws in regards to transgender people.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, gave the following statement:
“The Equality Act is the long overdue next chapter in our nation’s struggle against the forces of prejudice, animus, and hate. The introduction of this bill marks a historic opportunity to improve the lives of tens of millions of people across the country, including nearly 2 million transgender people. Too many of us endure hatred, prejudice, and violence throughout our lives, often waged by those who feel their bias is legally sanctioned by our government’s inaction. The Equality Act is the shield we need to protect transgender lives and defend the right of millions of Americans to live, labor, and learn without fear of stigma or persecution.”