Tuesday, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell joined other Senate Democrats in reintroducing historic, comprehensive federal legislation to ban discrimination against LGBTQ Americans. Despite major advances in equality for LGBTQ Americans, including nationwide marriage equality, the majority of states still do not have explicit LGBTQ non-discrimination protection laws. The Equality Act of 2017 would ensure full federal non-discrimination equality by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to other protected classes, such as race or religion, in existing federal laws.
“More than ever, we must send a clear message to the LGBTQ community – President Trump does not represent who we are as a nation and we stand ready to reject all forms of discrimination,” said Murray. “I am committed to building on the unprecedented momentum we’ve seen since the election to move forward the Equality Act and lay out a vision for the kind of country we all know we can be – one where respect is valued and hate is pushed back.”
The Equality Act of 2017 would explicitly ban discrimination in a host of areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, access to credit, and federal funding. It would also add protections against sex discrimination in parts of anti-discrimination laws where these protections had not been included previously, including in public accommodations and federal funding.
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) also helped reintroduce the Equality Act.
“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 stripping protections from transgender Americans and legalizing discrimination under the guise of ‘religious freedom.’ The Equality Act is an important step toward full equality under our laws for LGBT Americans, and Congress should pass it without delay. We can’t stop fighting until all Americans have equal rights and protections in all 50 states.”
The full text of the Equality Act of 2017 is available here.
Below are remarks by Murray during a press conference Tuesday announcing the bill:
No doubt about it – we expected to be at a very different place when planning to reintroduce the Equality Act this year.
But the truth is – there’s never been a more important time to keep up the fight, to lay out a vision for the kind of country we all know we can be, and to come together to pass the Equality Act.
Because since the moment he walked into the White House, President Trump has laid out a hateful, damaging agenda – to undo hard-won progress for the LGBTQ community.
In one of his first actions, President Trump – working alongside Attorney General Sessions and Secretary of Education DeVos – withdrew guidance for schools on the equal treatment of transgender students.
The Civil Rights Department at HHS – is now run by Roger Severino. A frankly appalling choice – who once hailed North Carolina’s transgender bathroom bill as “commonsense” policy.
President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Army – Mark Green – has a long record of making bigoted, hateful comments about LGBTQ people, including those in uniform.
On President Trump’s watch, federal agencies are rolling back efforts to collect data on the needs of LGBTQ Americans from critical surveys, including LGBTQ people with disabilities and older Americans.
Unfortunately – I could go on and on. Well – we are all here to say – that our country has come too far to turn back now.
It’s time to pass the Equality Act – to protect all Americans in education, employment, housing, credit, public places, and more – from discrimination based on who they are or who they love.
With a bully-in-chief in the White House, we need to make it clearer than ever that this kind of behavior simply should not be accepted.
That’s why we need to pass the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act – to make sure colleges and universities are working to protect LGBTQ students from harassment.
So called “conversion therapy” not only is fraud, it is cruel – and has no place in our country. That’s why we need to pass the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act.
Even despite what we are up against – I know we must still push for progress. Over the course of the past 100 days—you all haven’t given up. Never before – across the country – have more people been ready to fight back.
So I don’t plan on stopping. And I know neither do Senators Merkley, Schumer, Baldwin, Booker – and our entire Democratic Caucus.
We are here to make very clear – President Trump does not represent who we are as a nation.
I know I want my children and grandchildren to live in a country where respect is valued, not derided.
Where bullies lose, not win. Where hate is pushed back, not harnessed for political ends.
And where everyone, no matter where they come from, who they love, or who they are – is protected, respected, and supported.
That’s what I am going to keep fighting for – and I’m not going to give up.