Equality Act (United States)

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The Equality Act is a bill in the United States House of Representatives and the Senate that if passed would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protections that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system. It was reintroduced in the 115th United States Congress on May 2, 2017.[1]

Content[edit]

The Equality Act updates the definitions of 3 terms:[2]

  • "sex" to include a sex stereotype, sexual orientation or gender identity, and pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition
  • "sexual orientation" as homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality
  • "gender identity" as gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms, or characteristics, regardless of the individual's designated sex at birth.

The Equality Act expands the categories of "public accommodations" to include places or establishments that provide:[2]

  • exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays
  • goods, services, or programs, including a store, a shopping center, an online retailer or service provider, a salon, a bank, a gas station, a food bank, a service or care center, a shelter, a travel agency, a funeral parlor, or a health care, accounting, or legal service
  • transportation services

The Equality Act prohibits "establishment" from being construed to be limited to a physical facility or place.[2]

History[edit]

The Equality Act was developed by Democratic Representative to New York Bella Abzug with the help of Ed Koch (D-NY) in 1974. The Equality Act of 1974 sought to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include prohibitions on the discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and marital status. The Bill defined sexual orientation as "choice of sexual partner according to gender." On June 27, 1974, the Bill was Referred to House Committee on the Judiciary, where it died.[3]

Legislative activity[edit]

114th Congress[edit]

H.R. 3185[edit]

On July 23, 2015, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced the Equality Act of 2015 in the House of Representatives.

In January 2016, Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL) became the first Republican Representative to co-sponsor the bill.[4] Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) became the second Republican to co-sponsor the bill in September 2016.

S. 1858[edit]

On July 23, 2015, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Equality Act of 2015 in the United States Senate.

In January 2016, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) became the first and only Republican Senator to co-sponsor the bill.

All Democrats and Independents cosponsored the bill with the exception of Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Jon Tester (D-MT)

115th Congress[edit]

H.R. 2282[edit]

On May 2, 2017, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced the Equality Act of 2017 in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) was the only Republican to co-sponsor the bill from the outset, with Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) becoming the second Republican to co-sponsor the bill on May 26, 2017

S. 1006[edit]

On May 2, 2017, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Equality Act of 2017 in the United States Senate.

All Democrats and Independents cosponsored the bill with the exception of Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). To date the bill does not have any Republican co-sponsors in the senate.

Support[edit]

The Equality Act of 2015 has received support from Apple Inc.,[5] Dow Chemical Company,[5] Human Rights Campaign,[5] Levi Strauss & Co.,[5] American Airlines,[6] Facebook,[6] General Mills,[6] Google,[6] and Nike.[6]

On November 10, 2015, President Barack Obama officially announced his support for the Equality Act.[7]

Both main Democratic presidential candidates for 2016, namely Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, supported the Equality Act.[8]

Obstacles[edit]

One major obstacle in the passage of this act to date is the fact that both houses on Congress are controlled by conservative Republicans and the current U.S. President Donald Trump opposes the Equality Act.

Legislative history[edit]

Congress Short title Bill number(s) Date introduced Sponsor(s) # of cosponsors Latest status
114th Congress Equality Act of 2015 H.R. 3185 July 23, 2015 David Cicilline
(D-RI)
178 Died in committee
S. 1858 July 23, 2015 Jeff Merkley
(D-OR)
42 Died in committee
115th Congress Equality Act of 2017 H.R. 2282 May 2, 2017 David Cicilline
(D-RI)
198 Referred to committee
S. 1006 May 2, 2017 Jeff Merkley
(D-OR)
47 Referred to committee

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Attribution:

External links[edit]