House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Thursday during her weekly news conference the Equality Act, legislation that would enact long sought-after federal protections against anti-LGBT legislation, would be introduced next week.
Pelosi said the Equality Act would be introduced in the same week as legislation intended to protect DREAMers, or young undocumented immigrants, and other immigrants from deportation in the aftermath of President Trump’s revocation of their protections.
“Next week, will be launching our Equality Act to end discrimination for the LGBTQ community and we will be launching our initiative to protect the DREAMers and temporary-protected status persons in our country,” Pelosi said.
Touting the new Democratic House majority’s achievement in advancing background checks for gun purchases and government reform legislation, Pelosi also said legislation for women workers ensuring equal pay for equal work and reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act would come later this month.
“We said these things during the campaign, and we’re getting it done and we are telling the public about the paths that we are on to get them turned into law to make a difference in the lives of the American people,” Pelosi said.
As it was previously introduced, the Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to ban anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, education, federal programs and credit.
The bill also seeks to update federal law to include sex in the list of protected classes in public accommodation in addition to expanding the definition of public accommodations to include retail stores, banks, transportation services and health care services. Further, the Equality Act would establish that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — a 1994 law aimed at protecting religious liberty — can’t be used to enable anti-LGBT discrimination.
After the news conference, Pelosi told the Blade “we’ll see” when asked when she’d bring legislation to a floor vote, but was confident the House would approve it. (The Republican-controlled Senate is a different story.)
“As we go along, it’s the tempo of the floor, but it is a priority for us,” Pelosi said. “I’m very pleased because we have a great deal of outside support for it, which I hope will help us pass it in the Senate. We most certainly will pass it overwhelmingly in the House.”
In previous years, the Equality Act was introduced in the House by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). The Washington Blade has requests in with those lawmakers’ office seeking additional details about the introduction.