Democratic Majority Introduces Equality Act of 2019

Mar 13, 2019

Bipartisan federal LGBT rights legislation will prohibit discrimination


WASHINGTON – Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) introduced the Equality Act of 2019 today with a record 239 co-sponsors. The legislation modifies existing civil rights law to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBT Americans in access to employment, education, credit, jury service, federal funding, housing, and public accommodations. Senator Jeff Merkley has also introduced the bill in the U.S. Senate.


"It is past time for the Equality Act to be written into law," said Cicilline. "Democrats are committed to delivering results for the people, and that means all the people. No American should ever be treated as less than equal in the eyes of the law. I’m looking forward to getting this bill through the House this spring. Senator McConnell should take it up without delay."


Despite significant advances, LGBT people across the country remain vulnerable to discrimination on a daily basis and too often have little recourse. Millions of LGBT Americans have the right to marry but no explicit non-discrimination protections in other areas of daily life. In most states, a same-sex couple can get married one day and legally be fired from their jobs, evicted from their apartment, or kicked out of a restaurant the next.


The Equality Act ensures that the same protections already extended to other protected classes are equally available to LGBT Americans. It amends existing federal civil rights laws to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, Federal jury service, public accommodations, and the use of Federal funds.


In some of these areas, federal law prohibiting sex discrimination has already been properly interpreted by federal courts and administrative agencies to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equality Act affirms that understanding of existing law and makes the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity explicit, in order to provide greater clarity to members of the public, employers, schools, businesses and other affected parties. In areas where sex discrimination is not already prohibited, the bill amends existing law to bar discrimination on the basis of sex, as well as sexual orientation, and gender identity.


Cicilline introduced the proposal today with more co-sponsors than ever before in the U.S. House. Today also marks the first time that the bill is being introduced as a bipartisan proposal in the House.