Merkley, Collins, Baldwin, Booker Pledge to Work to Continue Equality Act Momentum in Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The lead Senate sponsors of the Equality Act—U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ)—today celebrated the bipartisan passage of the legislation in the House of Representatives, and pledged to work to continue the bill’s momentum in the Senate.

“Today is a historic day in our American journey of continually striving toward a more perfect union. From Gettysburg to Seneca Falls to Selma, Stonewall and beyond, brave individuals have continually pushed to move our nation closer to its founding ideal that each of us is created equal. With today’s vote, we begin to write another chapter in that great American story—one that will finally guarantee full equality and opportunity to LGBTQ Americans across our nation,” said Merkley. “It’s past time for all Americans to have full and explicit protections from being discriminated against simply because of who they are or whom they love. Now, the Senate must take up and pass this historic legislation, and let the bells of freedom ring across America.”

“All Americans deserve a fair opportunity to pursue the American dream,” said Collins.  “It is time we ensure that all people are judged on their talents and abilities, and have full access to the services they need and the opportunities they seek. The House passage of this bill marks an important first step in the legislative process. I recognize that we have more work to do in the Senate to build bipartisan consensus, and we will continue to work toward that goal.”

“It is just wrong that in a majority of states, LGBTQ Americans live without fully-inclusive non-discrimination laws and are not fully protected from being fired, evicted from their home, or denied services simply because of who they are or who they love. It is time to end this kind of discrimination because LGBTQ Americans should have the freedom of full equality,” said Baldwin. “The House has taken an historic step forward by passing the Equality Act and the Senate should work together on getting the job done to pass bipartisan legislation that provides full equality for every LGBTQ American across our country.”

“Today’s passage is another step forward in our country’s journey to extend liberty and justice for all,” Booker said. “LGBTQ Americans deserve the right to live free of discrimination and without worry of being fired, evicted, or denied basic services because of who they are and who they love. This bill signifies the best of who we are as Americans by clarifying that the protections set forth in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are applied to 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 2019 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 bill would explicitly ban 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.