On July 23, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the “Equality Act,” S. 1858, and Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced its companion bill, H.R. 3185. The “Equality Act” is a comprehensive bill that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity in such matters as employment, education, and housing. The bill also would amend the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
Multiple studies, including one conducted by HUD, have found that members of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) community experience discrimination when seeking to rent or buy a home. To address this problem, the bill would amend the Fair Housing Act so that sexual orientation and gender identity, either actual or perceived, would be included among the law’s list of protected personal characteristics. Currently the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, family status, or disability.
When introducing the bill, Senator Merkley stated, “The time has come for us as a nation to be bolder and better in ensuring full rights for the LGBT community. Every person deserves to live free from fear of discrimination, regardless of who they are or whom they love. Enacting the Equality Act will bring us another significant step forward in our nation’s long march towards inclusion and equality. It will extend the full promise of America to every American.”
The Senate bill has 39 cosponsors and was referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. In the House, the bill has 168 cosponsors and was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the Committee on Financial Services, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Administration.
More about the Senate version of the bill is at https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/1858
More about House version of the bill is at https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/3185