Senate Leaders Celebrate House Passage of Equality Act, Vow to Continue Effort in the Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, who co-authored the Equality Act with Representative David Cicilline (D-RI), joined with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Durbin (D-IL) today to applaud the bipartisan passage of the Equality Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Equality Act is a historic, comprehensive bill that would ban discrimination against LGBTQ Americans, just as discrimination on the basis of race, religion, or ethnicity is illegal everywhere in the United States.

“In the land of the free, the doors of opportunity should not be slammed shut because of who Americans are or whom they love. It is way past time to end the dark history of discrimination and begin a new era of equality and justice for our fellow LGBTQ Americans,” said Merkley. “Today’s House passage of the Equality Act is an important step forward and a shining source of hope for every American who values freedom and equality for all. So let’s celebrate this major milestone, and also use this day to recommit ourselves to bringing the fight to ban LGBTQ discrimination to the Senate. Let’s make 2021 the year that we end discrimination that remains legal in the majority of American states. Let’s make 2021 the year that we ring the bells of freedom for every American.”

“I am proud to reintroduce the Equality Act in the Senate, because it’s essential, urgent, and long-overdue legislation that will move us closer to a society where all Americans are treated equally under the law,” said Leader Schumer. “Even today, the signs of discrimination based on sexual orientation abound from education, to housing, to family planning, from the workplace to adoption to immigration. Congress must pass the Equality Act so that LGBTQ+ Americans will no longer have to face discrimination in some of these most basic areas of life.”

“I applaud my colleagues in the House for taking real, meaningful action in passing the Equality Act that will clarify and codify that federal civil rights law protects LGBTQ+ American from discrimination,” said Booker.  “I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this urgently needed legislation as we work to ensure that the rights of all Americans, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, are protected under the law and that the dignity and worth of LGBTQ people is respected and uplifted.”

 “It is just wrong that in a majority of states, LGBTQ Americans live without fully-inclusive non-discrimination laws and can still face discrimination 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 is taking action to pass the Equality Act and the Senate should do the same. Let’s get this job done and send it to President Biden so he can sign it into law and provide full equality for every LGBTQ American across our country.”

“I applaud the House of Representatives for passing the Equality Act,” Durbin said. “Now that the bill is in the Senate, I will work with my colleagues to try and pass this critical legislation and ensure that LGBTQ Americans are clearly and fully protected under our nation’s civil rights laws. No American should face discrimination because of who they are or who they love.”

Last week, Merkley teamed up with U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to announce the introduction of the legislation in the U.S. Senate. The legislation was formally introduced this week.