**The Equality Act would Ensure LGBTQ Americans are Protected by Same Federal Non-discrimination Laws that Apply to Race, Religion and More**
(Washington, DC) – Last night, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce historic, comprehensive federal legislation – the bipartisan Equality Act of 2019 – to ban discrimination against LGBTQ Americans. They introduced the legislation, which includes Shaheen’s Jury ACCESS Act, with Senators Collins (R-ME), Baldwin (D-WI), Booker (D-NJ) and 41 of their Senate colleagues. The legislation was filed simultaneously in the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and joined by Reps. Kuster (NH-02) and Pappas (NH-01), and 237 Representatives.
“LGBTQ Americans should enjoy full equality, and until that’s legally enforced, Congress has work to do,” said Senator Shaheen. “This legislation underscores our nation’s democratic pledge to safeguard equality, freedom and liberty for all Americans. This is comprehensive civil rights legislation that I’m proud to support, and I am happy to share that it also includes my bill to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ citizens during the federal jury selection process because every American should be able to fulfill their civic duty. The Equality Act is a historic, bipartisan effort that is both long overdue and urgently needed.”
“It is wholly unacceptable that the law still allows discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. It’s long past time for Congress to take action to fix that,” said Senator Hassan. “I am proud to help introduce the Equality Act so that anti-discrimination protections are in place to help ensure that all Americans – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity – have the opportunity to fully participate in our civic and economic life.”
Despite major advances in equality for LGBTQ Americans, including nationwide marriage equality, the majority of states still do not have explicit LGBTQ non-discrimination protection laws.
The Equality Act of 2019 would ensure full federal non-discrimination equality by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to other protected classes, such as race or religion, in existing federal laws. The bill would explicitly ban discrimination in a host of areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, access to credit, and federal funding. It would also add protections against sex discrimination in parts of anti-discrimination laws where these protections had not been included previously, including in public accommodations and federal funding.
The legislation includes Shaheen’s bill—the Jury Access for Capable Citizens and Equality in Service Selection (ACCESS) Act— which she reintroduced earlier this year with Senator Collins. Shaheen’s bipartisan bill would prevent discrimination against LGBTQ citizens during the federal jury selection process.
The full text of the Equality Act of 2019 is available here.