Democrats to re-introduce LGBT Equality Act in Congress

Democrats are reintroducing a federal bill to outlaw discrimination against LGBT people – but senior Republicans are expected to continue blocking it.

There are currently no federal-level protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the US. This means that it is legal to fire people for being gay in dozens of states due to patchy state-level protections.

The Democrats have repeatedly tried to add LGBT rights protections to existing anti-discrimination civil rights laws, but Republicans in Congress have blocked both the Equality Act and its predecessor, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

This week, the Democrats reintroduced the Equality Act in Congress, though hopes are not high that the legislation will pass given the Republican majorities in both houses.

But the bill’s Democratic sponsors have vowed to ensure LGBT issues don’t fall off the agenda.

Speaking to Buzzfeed, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) said: “It’s important for Americans to know whether members of Congress support full equality for our community or whether they support continued discrimination against LGBT Americans.”

Senator Jeff Merkley added: “Every member of Congress should have to be counted and show exactly where they stand: either for or against full equality for all Americans.

“In 2017, any elected leader who wants to use their position to maintain outdated and discriminatory policies should have to stand up and explain why.”

Recent polling found that 69 percent of voters – including a 55 percent majority of Trump voters – support the Equality Act.

Despite the views of the electorate, Republicans are overwhelmingly opposed to the legislation.

Though there was some limited cross-party support for its predecessor ENDA, this did not translate into votes, and the GOP has continued to block protections.

In its previous incarnation, the Equality Act garnered support from major corporations including Apple and Coca-Cola.

A statement from Apple said: “At Apple we believe in equal treatment for everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. We fully support the expansion of legal protections as a matter of basic human dignity.”