On Feb. 25, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) voted to support H.R. 5, the Equality Act. This legislation, which received the support of 224 Members of the House, ensures LGBTQ Americans are guaranteed full protections of federal civil rights laws by extending anti-discrimination protections with regard to employment, education, access to credit, jury service, federal funding, housing and public accommodations.
“Every American deserves to have access to the same basic civil rights, regardless of who they are or who they love,” said Rep. Kilmer. “I’m proud to represent a state that provides protections to ensure that LGBTQ Washingtonians don’t face discrimination, but it’s important that Congress passed vital legislation today to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans in every corner of the nation. Fairness and equality are core American values, and our LGBTQ friends and neighbors should be guaranteed the same basic civil rights and opportunities as anyone else – whether they’re dealing with employment, education, access to credit, jury service, federal funding, housing, or starting a family.”
In the United States, millions of LGBTQ Americans can still be discriminated against depending on the state they live in. In 27 states, a person is at risk of being denied housing because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ people are also at risk of being denied access to education in 31 states, and the right to serve on a jury in 41 states. The existing patchwork of legal protections for LGBTQ+ people leaves millions of Americans subject to uncertainty and potential discrimination.
The Equality Act remedies these disparities by amending existing federal civil rights laws to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment education, housing, credit, jury service, public accommodations, and federal funding.
The legislation is endorsed by human rights organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP, the Urban League, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Women’s Law Center, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National LGBTQ taskforce, Lambda Legal, Family Equality Council, the National Partnership for Women and Families, the Transgender Law Center, Freedom for all Americans, SAGE, PFLAG, and the Center for American Progress.