WASHINGTON – Today, Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) joined 44 of their colleagues in re-introducing historic, comprehensive federal legislation to ban discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT) Americans. 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.
The legislation was filed simultaneously in the U.S. House of Representatives by 194 Representatives, led by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).
“Every American deserves the same freedoms, the same opportunities, and the same protections under the law,” said Senator Cardin. “The Equality Act furthers that aim, protecting our LGBT brothers and sisters from employment, housing and financial discrimination based on their orientation. This legislation is common sense, long overdue, and a critical next step along the road to equality.”
“Our country stands for the ideals of liberty and justice for all – but LGBT Americans in many states do not have equal protections under the law,” said Senator Van Hollen. “The Equality Act will move our nation closer to the day that LGBT Americans can live their lives free from the threat of discrimination.”
Despite major advances in equality for LGBT Americans, including nationwide marriage equality, the majority of states still do not have explicit LGBT non-discrimination protection laws.
The Equality Act of 2017 would address that, explicitly banning discrimination in a host of areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, access to credit, and federal funding.
The bill 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.
In addition to Senators Cardin and Van Hollen, the legislation is cosponsored in the Senate by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The full text of the Equality Act of 2017 is available here.