Historic LGBT Rights Bill Introduced to Congress

David Cicilline

David Cicilline

Last month The Equality Act, an LGBT non-discrimination bill originally proposed in 1974, was introduced to Congress by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative David Cicilline (D-RI). The bill’s co-sponsors include Senators Tammy Baldwin, Cory Booker, and Chuck Schumer, and Representatives Nancy Pelosi, John Lewis and Jared Polis. The bill would extend protections named in the 1964 Civil Rights Act to LGBT citizens, thereby prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in employment, housing, education, credit, public accommodations, jury service, and federally funded programs.

Democrats are hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality will provide momentum to push the bill through Congress. In a letter written to the Republican-dominated Congress, Representative Cicilline (pictured) wrote, “In most states, a same-sex couple can get married on Saturday, post pictures on Facebook on Sunday, and then risk being fired from their job or kicked out of their apartment on Monday. A majority of states in our country do not have laws that protect LGBT individuals against discrimination…We need a uniform federal standard that protects all LGBT Americans from discrimination.”