WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, the lead Senate sponsor of the bipartisan Equality Act, released the following statement after the House Judiciary Committee held the first public hearing on the legislation today:
“Today’s hearing is a huge step forward in the fight for LGBTQ equality. President Lyndon Johnson once said that ‘freedom is the right to share, fully and equally, in American society… the right to be treated in every part of our national life as a person equal in dignity and promise to all others.’ But all too often, LGBTQ Americans do not have this freedom today. In more than half of states, LGBTQ Americans still have no explicit legal protections against pernicious discrimination that targets them simply for who they are and whom they love.
“In 2019, it’s time for the Equality Act to become law, and for the bells of freedom to finally ring across America. Today’s hearing is an important step along that path to full freedom and equality. I commend Chairman Nadler, Speaker Pelosi, Representative Cicilline, and all of the equality champions in the House for holding this critical hearing, and I look forward to further committee action and a vote on the floor of the House in the coming months.”
The Equality Act, authored by Merkley and Rep. David Cicilline, would amend existing civil rights laws to include explicit protections against discrimination for LGBTQ Americans. This legislation would ensure that LGBTQ Americans enjoy the same protections under law that all Americans already enjoy on the basis of religion, race, gender and more.