The Equality Act was formally reintroduced to Congress on Feb. 18 by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and openly gay U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, Gay City News reported.
The legislation, which most recently passed the lower chamber in 2019, would expand on the Supreme Court ruling issued in June of last year, which established employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and was followed up by President Joe Biden's executive order reaffirming and broadening protections for queer people.
The measure would more firmly expand protections to encompass areas including housing, employment, public education, public accommodations, federal funding, credit, and the jury system.
Many pro-LGBTQ+ groups applauded the move in statements sent to Windy City Times. "Achieving LGBTQ equality is a unifying issue for our nation. Today, the Equality Act was reintroduced in Congress with broad support from a majority of people in this country, hundreds of Members of Congress and an unprecedented number of businesses who believe that every person should be treated equally under the law," said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, "GLAAD research shows an overwhelming majority of Americans already support protecting LGBTQ family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors from discrimination. The Equality Act secures those core values of fairness and equal treatment to protect LGBTQ people everywhere, and allow us the chance at full participation in all areas of American life. The House and Senate should move as quickly as possible to pass the Equality Act, and President Biden to sign it into law as promised."
National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Kierra Johnson stated, "The Equality Act must pass in 2021, and we call on every single House Member and Senator to vote for it. For decades, our national government has wrongly denied full and lasting federal civil rights protections to LGBTQ people. Yet every federal elected official knows that the patchwork of state laws, court decisions and administrative efforts are inadequate to protect us, vulnerable to political whims.
"To be protected in one state and losing those protections when one crosses state lines is unacceptable. Patchwork protection is unfair and harmful, and leaves LGBTQ people, our families and our children highly vulnerable, especially when we are Black or brown, Transgender or gender non-binary, living with multiple marginalized identities, with disabilities, in poverty, as immigrants and so many other situations."