WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today cosponsored a bill to expand federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Though the LGBT community has made significant legal advances, many states do not have explicit non-discrimination laws, leaving some in the LGBT community without protection. The Equality Act would prohibit discrimination in public accommodations, education, federal financial assistance, employment, housing, credit, and federal jury service.
“Our country has recently made great strides towards equality for LGBT Americans but, despite continued discrimination, the federal government has yet to recognize them as a protected class,” Brown said. “All Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, deserve access to essentials like education, housing, and employment. This long overdue legislation will give our LGBT neighbors, friends, and family the federal protection against discrimination that they deserve.”
The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations, during the federal financial assistance process, and in employment. LGBT individuals would be further protected under the Equality Act by the amendment of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991, and the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995.
The bill would also amend the Jury Selection and Services Act to prohibit discrimination in federal jury service based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Last Congress, Brown – who currently serves as ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – introduced the Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Act of 2013, a bill that would expand the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity as personal characteristics that may not be used to determine access to housing or credit. This legislation is also included in the Equality Act.