WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives today voted to pass legislation U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger helped introduce to expand protections for and prevent discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in Central Virginia and across the country.
In 31 states, a person can be denied access to education because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ+ Americans can also be denied housing in 27 states. The current patchwork of protections is often insufficient to prevent discrimination of LGBTQ+ people in education, housing, employment, and other areas of daily life.
Spanberger first helped introduce the Equality Act in March 2019, and she voted to pass the legislation in May 2019. The bill would offer new anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ Americans who too often face discrimination without any legal recourse.
The Spanberger-cosponsored Equality Act is endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Human Rights Campaign, American Civil Liberties Union, National Association of Manufacturers, and National Association of REALTORS.
“In America — in 2021 — LGBTQ+ people can be denied access to an education, a mortgage, or a job because they found the person they love — or because they have the courage to stand firm in who they are,” Spanberger said. “This Equality Act is about more than equality — it’s about righting wrongs, reasserting our commitment to equal rights, and making sure every person is treated with dignity and has the same rights. Tonight, I’m thinking of the thousands of Virginians who’ve waited far too long to see progress on this legislation. I hope they know that their voices are being heard, and I promise to keep fighting for them. I urge our colleagues in the Senate to think of these families when considering this legislation— and to move this bill to the President’s desk as soon as possible.”
The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make certain that LGBTQ+ Americans are afforded the same protection against discrimination as every other citizen. Specifically, the bill would change existing civil rights laws to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, federal financial assistance, housing, access to credit, employment, federal jury service, and education.
Federal courts and agencies have already interpreted federal law banning sex discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — and the Equality Act would close enforcement gaps and guarantee legal protection for all LGBTQ+ Americans.
Spanberger is an original cosponsor of the Equality Act, which is led by U.S. Representative David Cicilline (D-RI-01) in the U.S. House and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in the U.S. Senate.