Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today joined with 195 House Members and 46 Senators to introduce the Equality Act—comprehensive legislation to ban discrimination against LGBT individuals in public accommodations, housing, employment, and other core areas of daily life.
“We have come so far and made a great deal of progress on the issue of equality for all Americans, but now is not the time to rest on our past victories. It has never been more critical that we push forward toward our goal of passing the Equality Act so that no American can be discriminated against, harassed, or denied service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity," Congressman Lowenthal said.
"We must push forward. Even in the face of efforts to erase not only the progress of the last eight years, but to take us back to a time before Stonewall and Independence Hall. President Trump, through his rhetoric and actions, has empowered a wave of homophobic sentiment throughout the nation. The politics of the President should be a call to arms for every American who believes in our nation's immortal declaration that we are ALL created equal. By passing the Equality Act we can take one more step toward making that declaration reality."
First introduced in the Congress in 2015, the Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The legislation, which Rep. Lowenthal helped introduce during a press conference earlier today, would apply to public accommodations, federal funding, education, employment, housing, credit, and jury service.
Despite the historic Supreme Court ruling nearly two years ago that made marriage equality the law of the land, discrimination against LGBT individuals remains legal in most states. Currently, LGBT Americans have no protection from discrimination in 31 states. In these states, LGBT persons can be fired, evicted, or denied a loan just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And protections in the states that offer them are not the same from state to state, creating a patchwork of state laws that creates instability and prevents LGBT people from moving freely about the country.
A study conducted in 2015 by the non-partisan Human Rights Campaign found that 63% of LGBT Americans have experienced discrimination in their personal lives. Another study found that one out of every 10 lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual workers have been fired from a job because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In a show of support for the legislation, the Congressman has decided to continue flying the Pride flag outside his office until comprehensive non-discrimination legislation is signed into law. The flag has flown outside the Congressman’s office since March 2013 and, according to both the Architect of the Capitol and the Historian of the House, is considered to be the first Pride Flag to ever be officially flown outside a Capitol Hill Congressional office.
Sadly, even this historic flag was a victim of this increased vitriol when an anti-LGBT visitor to the Congressman’s office building shortly after the inauguration tore down the flag and stomped on it. Thankfully, the flag was not damage and continues to fly outside the Congressman’s office.