A day after taking the gavel once again as U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi reaffirmed her commitment to passing the Equality Act, legislation that would put into place federal non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ citizens.
She referenced the act during her gavel acceptance speech.
“We will make America fairer by passing the Equality Act to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community,” she said.
The Equality Act would extend civil rights and protections now enjoyed by other marginalized populations like racial minorities. It would mean no U.S. company could fire an individual based on their sexual orientation, for example. The legislation would likely also include housing protections so LGBTQ people can't be evicted or denied a mortgage because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Pelosi, who hails from San Francisco, made clear later in the afternoon that the legislation will be a priority in the Democratic-controlled House. A spokesman for Pelosi told the Washington Blade the bill boasted bipartisan support in the chamber. It's not clear if there are votes in the GOP-led Senate to pass it or if Donald Trump would sign the bill.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, welcomed Pelosi’s commitment to the issue of equality.
"Now is the time to move equality forward by advancing the Equality Act to ensure LGBTQ Americans are able to go to go to work, raise their families, and live their lives free from discrimination," Griffin said.
"Far too many LGBTQ people face unfair and unjust discrimination each and every day with only a patchwork of protections across the country. We are thankful for Speaker Pelosi reaffirming her commitment to advance this critically important legislation and seize this historic moment to make full federal LGBTQ equality a reality."
In fact, HRC estimated about 50 percent of LGBTQ Americans live in one of 30 states with no legal protections and remain at risk of losing their job or housing and can be denied service based on their sexuality or gender identity.
The Equality Act has been previously introduced in the House by Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, an openly gay lawmaker.
“The truth is that it’s more important now than ever before that we continue fighting to advance full equality for all LGBT Americans,” Cicilline wrote in a guest commentary for The Advocate last year.