WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Cory Booker (D-NJ)—the lead sponsors of the Equality Act in the Senate—spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee today to emphasize the necessity of passing the legislation to protect the rights and liberties of LGBTQ Americans.
The Equality Act—historic, comprehensive legislation to ban discrimination against LGBTQ Americans, just as religious, racial, and ethnic discrimination are illegal everywhere in America—was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on February 24, 2021.
“Since its founding, America has had imperfections. But part of what makes this country so special is the fact that generations of Americans have marched, voted, organized, and raised their voices to move us closer toward a more perfect union with freedom, equality, and opportunity for all,” said Merkley. “Today that vision is marred by the dark curse of discrimination that haunts the lives of LGBTQ Americans. Our fellow Americans can be ejected from a restaurant, denied a mortgage, dismissed from jury duty, or evicted from their homes because of who they are or whom they love. Let’s make 2021 the year that we strike down this discrimination, and celebrate freedom, equality, and opportunity for all.”
“Discrimination remains a daily reality for members of the LGBTQ community in far too many places. A majority of states still lack comprehensive nondiscrimination protections in employment, housing, public accommodations, education and elsewhere. Our community simply seeks to be included, to be afforded the same opportunities as every other American. That is what the Equality Act is about: making our nation’s decades-old federal civil rights framework inclusive of LGBTQ people, and expanding the opportunities they afford to more people – not diminishing them for others. This effort is not about taking something away from others, but rather ensuring LGBTQ people can participate fully in the life of our nation,” said Senator Baldwin.
“We cannot profess to be a nation of liberty and justice for all when our fellow Americans are discriminated against simply because of who they are and who they love,” said Senator Booker. “If we are going to celebrate ideals of liberty and freedom, we must have comprehensive and nationwide protections for LGBTQ+ Americans. Today’s hearing is an important step forward that highlights the urgency of passing this vital legislation into law.”
On February 19, 2021, Merkley, Booker, and Baldwin announced that they would introduce the Equality Act in the Senate—and did so the following week.