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Pingree, Equality Caucus Reintroduce Landmark Bill to Ensure Explicit LGBTQ+ Protections

The Equality Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to extend non-discrimination protections to the LGBTQ+ community

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Vice-Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, and fellow Equality Caucus members today reintroduced bicameral legislation to ensure explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQI+ people. The landmark Equality Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to extend non-discrimination protections to the LGBTQ+ community and would explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation in employment, education, access to credit, jury service, federal funding housing, and public accommodations. 

“In Maine, we have ensured that everyone—regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation—has equal civil rights. With state legislatures across the country and Republicans in Congress continuously attacking LGBTQ+ people, it is critical that they have the same protections from discrimination as every other marginalized group,” said Pingree. “Passing the Equality Act has never been more urgent.” 

“The promise of democracy means a great deal to me personally because I have felt the sting of its denial. As the first openly gay person of color to serve in Congress, I am acutely aware of the impacts lawful discrimination has on our marginalized communities in the United States, and the LGBTQI+ community have been subject to discrimination, violence, and the denial of their full personhood under the law for far too long. I’m proud to reintroduce the Equality Act as a long-overdue guarantee to all members of our community that we, too, benefit from the civil rights protections and the full promise of American democracy,” said Rep. Mark Takano, Co-Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus. 

The Equality Act would amend existing civil rights laws to explicitly prohibit discrimination against LGBTQI+ people in: 

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Public Accommodations
  • Education
  • Federally Funded Programs
  • Credit; and 
  • Jury Service 

The Equality Act would also prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in public accommodations and federally funded programs. 

The Equality Act is led by Equality Caucus Co-Chair Mark Takano, Chair Mark Pocan, and Co-Chairs Angie Craig, Sharice Davids, Chris Pappas, Ritchie Torres, Becca Balint, Robert Garcia, and Eric Sorensen. The bill is cosponsored by every Democratic member of the House of Representatives. Senator Jeff Merkley, Equality Caucus Co-Founder Senator Tammy Baldwin, and Senator Cory Booker will reintroduce the Senate companion. Pingree is an original cosponsor of the House bill.

The House passed the bill with bipartisan support in both the 116th and 117th Congresses.

Full text of the Equality Act is available here. Background information can be found here

In addition to the Equality Act, Pingree has pledged to support the following bills again when they’re reintroduced:

Greater Leadership Overseas for the Benefit for Global Equality (Rep. Titus)
Codifies the LGBTI Special Envoy position, requires the State Department to document cases of human rights abuses and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, institute sanctions against foreign individuals responsible for those human rights abuses, and ensures fair access to asylum and refugee programs for LGBTQ+ people.

Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act (Rep. Lieu)
Establishes under the law that practices which falsely claim to change sexual orientation or gender identity are fraudulent.

Equal Dignity for Married Taxpayers Act (Rep. Balint)
Modernizes the tax code by removing gendered terms, such as “husband and wife,” and replacing them with gender neutral terms like “married couple.”

International Human Rights Defense Act (Rep. Garcia)
Requires the State Department to prevent and respond to discrimination, devises a global strategy to address discrimination, coordinates with local advocacy groups and governments, and creates the permanent position of Special Envoy on the Human Rights of LGBT People.

Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act (Rep. Bonamici)
Includes LGBTQ+ older adults as a population with the greatest economic and social needs under the OAA, permanently establishes the National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging, requires the Assistant Secretary of Aging to oversee data collection for LGBTQ+ adults, requires the long term care ombudsman to collect and analyze data regarding LGBTQ+ discrimination, and prioritize grants for organizations working to improve LGBTQ+ health, long term care, and access to culturally responsive services.

LGBT Data Inclusion Act (Rep. Grijalva)
Requires the collection of voluntary, self-disclosed information on sexual orientation and gender identity in certain federal surveys, including the Census.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) (Rep. Lee)
Encourages healthcare providers to offer culturally and clinically competent care to the LGBTQ+ community, schools to support the creation of gay-straight alliances, individuals to learn about natural resources for those who identify as LGBTQ+, funding organizations, aid efforts, and governments to prioritize the health and human rights of the LGBTQ+ population.

Click here to learn more about how Pingree is fighting for equality. 


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