WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined his Senate colleagues in reintroducing legislation to expand federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Many states still do not have explicit non-discrimination laws, leaving some in the LGBTQ community without protection. The Equality Act would unequivocally ban discrimination in a host of areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, access to credit, federal funding assistance, and education. 

“Too many of our LGBTQ friends, family and neighbors face continued discrimination. That’s just wrong, and our laws should protect them from discrimination in all its forms,” said Brown. “Everyone deserves equal access to education, housing and employment. These protections are long overdue and will help us further protect LGBTQ Ohioans.” 

Brown helped reintroduce this bill last Congress as well. The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, access to credit, and federal funding assistance, and education. LGBTQ 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 was introduced in the Senate by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced companion legislation in the House. In addition to Brown, the legislation was cosponsored in the Senate by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).