Equality Act (United States)

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The Equality Act is a bill in the United States Congress, that, if passed, would amend the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system.[1]

The Equality Act was jointly introduced in both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate on March 13, 2019, with the support of both Democratic and Republican members of Congress, national civil rights organizations (including the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and the Human Rights Campaign), international human rights organizations (including Human Rights Watch), major professional associations (including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Bar Association), and major businesses (including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, eBay, IBM, Facebook, Twitter, Visa, Mastercard, Intel, and Netflix).[2][3]

Polling has shown that an overwhelming majority of Americans support banning discrimination against LGBT people.[4]

Content[edit]

The Equality Act updates the definitions of three terms:[5]

  • "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 assigned sex at birth.

The Equality Act expands the categories of "public accommodations" to include places or establishments that provide:[5]

  • 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.[5]

History[edit]

The original Equality Act was developed by U.S. Representatives Bella Abzug (D-NY) and Ed Koch (D-NY) in 1974. The Equality Act of 1974 sought to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and marital status in federally assisted programs, housing sales, rentals, financing, and brokerage services. The bill authorized civil actions by the Attorney General of the United States in cases of discrimination on account of sex, sexual orientation, or marital status in public facilities and public education. On June 27, 1974, the bill was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, but did not proceed to a vote in the full United States House of Representatives.[6]

From 1994, the more narrow Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was introduced, but faced the most opposition over bathroom access for transgender people. A version of ENDA which included both sexual orientation and gender identity in its protections passed the United States Senate of the 108th United States Congress in 2013, but did not advance in the House. Opposition to LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination law continues to focus on transgender people, and this opposition comes up in other, related legislation like a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2019.[7]

Public opinion[edit]

A nationwide and state-by-state poll on the issue conducted throughout 2017 by the Public Religion Research Institute as part of the annual American Values Atlas survey revealed that 70% of Americans, including a majority in every state, supported laws that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people against discrimination, while 23% opposed such laws, and 8% had no opinion.[8][9][4]

Support[edit]

The Equality Act is supported by over 330 organizations and over 180 businesses, including the following:[2][3]

Organizations[edit]

Businesses[edit]

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 United States House of Representatives.

In January 2016, Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL) became the first Republican Representative to co-sponsor the bill.[10] 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 United States 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 exceptions of Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

116th Congress[edit]

H.R.5[edit]

On March 13, 2019, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced the Equality Act of 2019 in the United States House of Representatives. The bill is sponsored by 237 Democrats and 3 Republicans.

S. 788[edit]

On March 13, 2019, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Equality Act of 2019 in the United States Senate. The bill is sponsored by 43 Democrats, 2 Independents, and 1 Republican.

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 Died in committee
S. 1006 May 2, 2017 Jeff Merkley
(D-OR)
47 Died in committee
116th Congress Equality Act of 2019 H.R. 5 March 13, 2019 David Cicilline
(D-RI)
240 Referred to committee
S. 788 March 13, 2019 Jeff Merkley
(D-OR)
46 Referred to committee

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Equality Act". Human Rights Campaign.
  2. ^ a b "334 ORGANIZATIONS ENDORSING THE EQUALITY ACT" (PDF). Human Rights Campaign.
  3. ^ a b "Business Coalition for the Equality Act". Human Rights Campaign.
  4. ^ a b "70% Of Americans Support LGBT Anti-Discrimination Laws". NewNowNext.
  5. ^ a b c "H.R.3185 - Equality Act". United States Congress. July 23, 2015. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ "Congress - Equality Act". United States Congress. 2017.
  7. ^ Steinmetz, Katy (2013-03-21). "Why Federal Laws Don't Explicitly Ban Discrimination Against LGBT Americans". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2019-04-09.
  8. ^ "Emerging Consensus on LGBT Issues: Findings From the 2017 American Values Atlas". Public Religion Research Institute.
  9. ^ "PRRI - American Values Atlas". Public Religion Research Institute.
  10. ^ "Bob Dold of Illinois Is First Republican Cosponsor of Equality Act". The Advocate. January 15, 2016.

Attribution:

External links[edit]