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Equality Act Will Be Introduced Next Week, Nancy Pelosi Says

Nancy Pelosi

The Equality Act, which would ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination nationwide in employment, housing, public accommodations, and other areas, will be introduced in Congress next week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

“Next week, will be launching our Equality Act to end discrimination for the LGBTQ community and we will be launching our initiative to protect the DREAMers and temporary-protected status persons in our country,” the California Democrat said at a press conference, the Washington Blade reports. The latter two groups of people are immigrants without legal status in the U.S., DREAMers being those brought to the country as minors.

The Equality Act, which stalled in the two previous sessions of Congress, is the much broader successor to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, legislation that never passed the House and Senate in the same session.

While the exact wording of the 2019 version of the Equality Act has not yet been released, in previous versions it sought to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, education, federal programs, and credit. It would do so by amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act. It would also ban sex discrimination in public accommodations and update the definition of public accommodations to include retailers, banks, transportation, and health care services, and assure that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act could not be used to condone anti-LGBTQ discrimination, according to the Blade. A freestanding bill, the Do No Harm Act, has already been introduced to address RFRA.

Pelosi did not say when the Equality Act would come up for a vote in the House of Representatives, but she told the Blade that she was sure the Democratic-controlled chamber would pass it. The Senate has a Republican majority, making approval less likely there, but Pelosi remained optimistic.

“As we go along, it’s the tempo of the floor, but it is a priority for us,” she told the paper after the press conference. “I’m very pleased because we have a great deal of outside support for it, which I hope will help us pass it in the Senate. We most certainly will pass it overwhelmingly in the House.”

In previous sessions, the Equality Act was introduced in the House by Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island and in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, both Democrats.

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