Cicilline Statement to Senate Judiciary Committee

Mar 17, 2021 Issues: LGBT Issues

WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee today during a hearing on the Equality Act, his legislation to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Americans.

A video of Cicilline’s opening remarks can be viewed by clicking the image below. A transcript is embedded below.

David N. Cicilline
Statement to Senate Judiciary Committee
March 17, 2021
Remarks As Delivered

Thank you very much to Senator Whitehouse for that warm introduction.

Thank you to Chairman Durbin and Ranking Member Grassley for inviting me to speak today.

Senator Merkley and I have introduced the Equality Act each Congress since 2014, each time gaining hundreds of cosponsors and with the bill passing the House twice. This legislation is long overdue.

Equality, after all, is a founding principle of this great country.

As a nation, we endeavor to afford every American equal protection under the law. Sometimes we stumble, but we struggle onward. This is an opportunity to take a strong step forward and enshrine equal protection under the law for LGBTQ Americans, so that we may live lives free from discrimination.

It is time for our laws to guarantee equal rights for all people.

I am grateful that the American public already has a profound understanding of the need for equal protections for LGBTQ Americans.

Polls consistently find Americans support LGBTQ non-discrimination laws. A 2020 Public Religion Research Institute poll found that more than eight in ten Americans (83%) favor laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing, compared to only 16% of Americans who oppose such laws. A Hart Research poll released this morning confirms overwhelming support for the Equality Act.

A majority of Americans in every state support equal protection for the LGBTQ community.

Poll after poll shows that majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans favor nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBTQ people.

Similarly, an incredible group of businesses and organizations supports the Equality Act. 628 organizations from across the political spectrum, ranging from the AFL-CIO, the NAACP, the National PTA, to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers all support the bill. Hundreds of great American companies from Kellogg to Hershey to 3M have said they want the Equality Act to become law.

I believe that most Americans would be shocked to know that their LGBTQ family members, friends, and neighbors are not already protected from discrimination. Many Americans wrongly assume that the LGBTQ community is currently protected under the law. They find it inconceivable that this group of Americans would remain unprotected by the law, and this is our chance to expand the civil rights laws to ensure equal protection to all Americans.

I am pleased to say that the House passed the Equality Act on February 25th. I look forward to this committee carefully reviewing the legislation and to the Senate’s ultimate passage so that in preventing discrimination for millions of Americans, America will move closer to honoring the ideals to which this great country was founded.

I then thank you for the opportunity to testify today.