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'We need to pass the Equality Act': Sen. Tammy Baldwin makes case for LGBTQ bill

Tim Fitzsimons

03/11/2019

By Tim Fitzsimons

Democrats in Congress plan to reintroduce the Equality Act, a federal bill that would modify existing civil rights legislation to ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“In the majority of states, people in the LGBTQ community can be fired from a job perhaps because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and would have no recourse,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., a sponsor of the bill and one of 10 openly LGBTQ members of Congress. “We want to live in a country that, you know, judges people based on their performance and their character, and so we need to pass the Equality Act at the federal level.”Tim Fitzsimons

Currently, less than half of U.S. states explicitly prohibit discrimination due to sexual orientation and gender identity. The Equality Act would apply across the United States by updating federal civil rights law to ban discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, education, federal programs and credit on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, or disability.”

The bill is expected to be reintroduced in both chambers of Congress on Wednesday. With Democrats now in control of the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who during the 2018 midterm elections said passage of the Equality Act would be a top priority for Democrats — is sure to bring it up for a floor vote. With the Senate firmly under Republican control, however, chances of the bill making it to a vote are uncertain.

 

SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN

In an exclusive interview with NBC News on Monday, Baldwin said if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., were to give senators a chance to vote on the Equality Act, they would support the measure.

“If you just had an up or down vote, we would have sufficient votes in both houses,” Baldwin said. “I think what the House passage will tell us is that the 2020 elections are really important to create and vote for a pro-equality Senate and president.”

When asked if McConnell would bring the Equality Act up for a vote on the Senate floor after it is reintroduced, David Popp, McConnell’s press secretary, was equivocal: “If the Leader issues a statement on this I’ll be sure to forward it to you,” he wrote in an email.

 

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