Senator calls for passage of Equality Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity to protected classes in public accommodations

Friday, June 30, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement following the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in the 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis case:

“Discrimination and hate have no place in America. Unfortunately, today the extremist majority on the Supreme Court has trampled on anti-discrimination laws in an effort to push an anti-LGBTQ+ agenda.

“It should be alarming to all of us that in 2023 we are even discussing denying goods and services to someone because of their identity. Nearly 60 years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson said, ‘Freedom is the right to share, share fully and equally, in American society.’ With the stroke of a pen, the Supreme Court constricted freedoms and our LGBTQ+ friends, neighbors, and community members won’t be able to escape hate and discrimination as they go about their lives. To realize the vision of America as a land of freedom and equality, we must be willing to take the steps to bring that vision closer to reality.

“Now is the time to pass the Equality Act, and add sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected classes under the Civil Rights Act. As we live our lives – at work and school, at home, and out in public spaces like restaurants or stores – none of us should have to keep our families hidden or pretend to be someone we’re not to do those things.

“This decision is especially gut wrenching as we bring Pride Month to an end. This Pride Month has underscored that Pride is not only about celebration; it is also about fierce advocacy and fighting for the future we want in America. That was true already as we see a wave of hateful legislation targeting trans youth sweep across the country, and it is even more true today as we see the highest court in the land take aim at the fundamental right of the LGBTQ+ community to receive full and equal treatment in American society. While today’s decision is a shameful setback, we will never let hate win.”

Earlier this month, Merkley led the introduction of the Equality Act, historic, comprehensive legislation that would ban discrimination against LGBTQ+ Americans, just as religious, racial, and ethnic discrimination are illegal everywhere in the United States. Last August, Merkley also teamed up with the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus to file an amicus brief to the Supreme Court to defend nondiscrimination laws in the case of 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis.