(EDGE) On Tuesday, bipartisan lawmakers, civil rights organizations and an unprecedented number of businesses announced the re-introduction of the Equality Act - federal legislation that would finally guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people under our nation's existing civil rights laws.
The bipartisan legislation would provide clear and equal protections under federal law for all Americans in vital areas of life, like employment, access to public spaces, housing, credit, education, jury service, and federally-funded programs. Today, in a majority of U.S. states ( 31 ), LGBTQ people remain at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services because of who they are.
The move was lauded by LGBTQ and Civil Rights organizations.
"No person's fundamental rights should be determined by which side of a state line they live on," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "The Equality Act will once and for all end the unacceptable patchwork of non-discrimination laws across this country that leaves LGBTQ people at risk. Every American should have a fair chance to earn a living, provide for their families, and live their lives without fear of discrimination. And at its core, that's what the Equality Act is all about."
Ian Thompson, American Civil Liberties Union legislative representative, had the following reaction:
"We cannot allow the current political climate to be used as an excuse for inaction. There is too much at stake for LGBT people, women, and people of color. While the Trump administration continues to act to undermine recent progress, particularly for transgender people, we must fight back by pressing forward with a proactive agenda. In courtrooms and in the halls of legislatures, the ACLU will fight as hard as ever to ensure that LGBT people are able to lead lives that are free from the sting of discrimination. Today's introduction of the Equality Act serves as an opportunity to recommit to this goal."
Selisse Berry, Founder and CEO of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, issued the following statement:?
"We're proud to support the Equality Act of 2017, crucial legislation that seeks to end discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing, education, credit, public accommodations, jury service, and more. We are grateful to Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Co-Chair David N. Cicilline (D-RI) and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) for their leadership on this bill. As we have learned from 20 years of progress and partnership with Fortune 1000 companies, we are stronger when we treat all workers equally under the law. Ending employment discrimination and welcoming employees of all identities and backgrounds is good for workers, good for business, and good for our economy and society as a whole."
"Given the actions of the current administration, the need for this legislation is greater than ever," said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. "While California has the world's strongest laws protecting LGBTQ people, the daily reality remains that LGBTQ people across much of the country can still be fired, evicted, expelled from school or denied service or credit because of who they are. It is our sincere hope that the Equality Act will address the significant discrimination that still persists for so many people across the country. We are grateful to Sen. Cicilline and Rep. Merkley for advancing this vital piece of legislation."
Tuesday's announcement included unprecedented support from the business community: 92 major corporations have now joined HRC's Business Coalition for the Equality Act, including: Abercrombie & Fitch Co.; Accenture; Adobe Systems Inc.; Advanced Micro Devices Inc.; Airbnb Inc.; Alcoa Inc.; Amazon.com Inc.; American Airlines; American Eagle Outfitters; American Express Global Business Travel; Apple Inc.; Arconic; Automatic Data Processing Inc.; Bank of America; Best Buy Co., Inc.; Biogen; Boehringer Ingelheim USA Corp.; Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.; Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc.; Brown-Forman Corp.; CA Technologies Inc.; Caesars Entertainment Corp.; Capital One Financial Corp.; Cardinal Health Inc.; Cargill Inc.; Chevron Corp.; Choice Hotels International Inc.; Cisco Systems Inc.; The Coca-Cola Co.; Corning Inc.; Cox Enterprises; CVS Health Corp.; Darden Restaurants Inc.; Delhaize America Inc.; Diageo North America; The Dow Chemical Co.; Dropbox Inc.; E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. ( DuPont ); eBay; EMC Corp.; Facebook Inc.; Gap Inc.; General Electric Co.; General Mills Inc.; Google Inc.; The Hershey Company; Hewlett Packard Enterprises; Hilton Worldwide Inc.; HP Inc.; HSN Inc.; Hyatt Hotels Corp.; IBM Corp.; Intel Corp.; InterContinental Hotels Group Americas; Johnson & Johnson; JP Morgan Chase & Co.; Kaiser Permanente; Kellogg Co.; Kenneth Cole Productions; Levi Strauss & Co.; Marriott International Inc.; MasterCard Inc.; McGraw Hill Financial; Microsoft Corp.; Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams; Monsanto Co.; Moody's Corp.; Nike Inc.; Northrop Grumman Corp.; Office Depot Inc.; Oracle Corp.; Orbitz Worldwide Inc.; PepsiCo Inc.; Procter & Gamble Co.; Pure Storage Inc.; Qualcomm Inc.; Replacements Ltd.; Salesforce; SAP America Inc.; Sodexo Inc.; Symantec Corp.; T-Mobile USA Inc.; Target Corp.; Tech Data Corp.; TIAA; Twitter Inc.; Uber Technologies Inc.; Unilever; Warby Parker; Wedding Wire Inc.; Williams-Sonoma Inc.; and Xerox Corp.
The Equality Act is co-sponsored by 240 members of Congress. It was first introduced in 2015 by Representative David Cicilline ( D-RI ) and by Senators Jeff Merkley ( D-OR ), Tammy Baldwin ( D-WI ) and Cory Booker ( D-NJ ).