Pingree, Vice Chair of House LGBTQ Caucus, Celebrates Long-Overdue Passage of the Equality Act
Legislation passed today will prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Americans
Washington, February 25, 2021
Tags: Fighting for Equality
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), a vice chair of the House LGBTQ Caucus, today celebrated the passage of the Equality Act, legislation to expand existing civil rights protections to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“For more than 15 years, Maine has had civil rights protections for our LGBTQ neighbors. We’ve stood together against bigotry and made sure that everyone in our state has equal access to housing, education, credit, employment, and public accommodations,” said Pingree. “But in most states, a same-sex couple can get married one day and legally denied service at a restaurant or evicted from their apartment the next. The Equality Act would right this wrong and extend civil rights to everyone—no matter who they love or how they identify. I’ve proudly advocated for this bill for years, and I’m thrilled to see it pass the House today.”
Currently, only 21 states—including Maine—have explicit laws barring discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations, and only 20 states have such protections for gender identity. 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 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 Equality Act has the bipartisan support of Members of Congress, the strong support of the business community, and the overwhelming support of the American people—with more than 7 in 10 supporting the Equality Act. President Biden has pledged to make the Equality Act a priority of his first 100 days in office.
In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that workers could not be fired from their jobs for their sexual orientation. However, the Equality Act would further extend and codify civil rights protections for LGBTQ individuals across the country.