DelBene Calls for Judiciary Hearing on Equality Act

DelBene Calls for Judiciary Hearing on Equality Act

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As more states legalize discrimination against LGBT people, it’s critical Congress act to ensure all Americans have equal rights and protections.

Suzan DelBene/Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times
Suzan DelBene/The Seattle Times

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) Thursday joined more than 100 colleagues in calling on House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-06) to hold a hearing on the Equality Act (H.R. 3185), a comprehensive bill that aims to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans.

“In too many states, people who are LGBT can still be fired, denied credit and evicted from their home simply based on who they are and who they love,” DelBene said. “What’s worse, our nation is seeing a proliferation of state laws legalizing discrimination under the guise of ‘religious freedom.’ The House Judiciary Committee, which I serve on, should take up the Equality Act without delay to make clear that LGBT Americans deserve full equality under our laws. We can’t stop fighting until all Americans have equal rights and protections.”

DelBene is an original cosponsor of the Equality Act, which would provide explicit, consistent civil rights protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in credit, education, employment, federal funding, housing, jury service and public accommodations.

Mississippi and North Carolina recently enacted laws to permit discrimination against LGBT individuals, underscoring the need for a comprehensive prohibition on discrimination.

Last year, DelBene introduced a resolution (H.Res. 549) to designate June 26, as “LGBT Equality Day,” to honor the anniversary of LGBT milestones and highlight how much work remains to be done.

Full text of the letter led by Rep. David Cicilline (R.I.-01), follows.

Dear Chairman Goodlatte:

We write as cosponsors of H.R. 3185, the Equality Act, to request that you hold a hearing on this legislation in the House Judiciary Committee.  As you may know, this bipartisan legislation has the support of 175 Members of the House, and would ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals are protected under the law.

While many states have adopted numerous LGBT civil rights laws, there is currently no uniform federal standard that protects all LGBT Americans from discrimination.  The current patchwork of LGBT state laws has not only created an enormous amount of confusion and uncertainty, but it has impacted the safety and lives of LGBT Americans.  Under the current system, LGBT Americans are forced to choose where to live and work based on the legal protections available in a particular jurisdiction.

The Equality Act amends existing federal statutes to provide explicit, consistent protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of credit, education, employment, federal funding, housing, jury service, and public accommodations. By amending existing code, we extend the exact same protections to LGBT people, no more and no less, than exist for the protected classes of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

All Americans deserve equal protection under the law. We request that as the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to which this legislation has been referred, you recognize the vital importance of this issue by holding a hearing on the Equality Act, to be followed by the opportunity for passage by the Judiciary Committee and ultimately, by the House of Representatives.

We look forward to working with you on moving this historic legislation.

 

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