WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), to introduce comprehensive federal legislation to ban discrimination against LGBTQ Americans. The Equality Act of 2017 would ensure full federal non-discrimination equality by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to other protected classes, such as race or religion, in existing federal laws.
“The U.S. is a world leader for LGBTQ rights, but too many LGBTQ Americans are not fully protected from discrimination in employment, housing and other areas. In New Mexico, we are proud of our diversity and outlawed prejudice based on gender identity and sexual orientation in 2003, but the majority of states still lack non-discrimination protections,” Udall said. “We must ensure every citizen in this country has the opportunity to earn a living without fear of being fired, harassed or denied a promotion because of how they identify or who they love. I support the Equality Act because I support the civil rights of all Americans, and it’s time our laws do too.”
“The LGBTQ community in New Mexico and across the country shouldn't fear harassment, discrimination, or risk losing their jobs simply because of who they are or who they love,” said Heinrich. “I am proud to represent a state that was at the forefront of the providing these types of civil rights protections for the LGBTQ community. This legislation will bring our nation closer to the fundamental ideal that everyone is created equal and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Despite major advances in equality for LGBTQ Americans, including nationwide marriage equality, the majority of states still do not have explicit LGBTQ non-discrimination protection laws. The bill would explicitly ban discrimination in a host of areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, access to credit, and federal funding. The bill would also add protections against sex discrimination in parts of anti-discrimination laws where these protections had not been included previously, including in public accommodations and federal funding.
The legislation was filed simultaneously in the U.S. House of Representatives by 194 Representatives, led by U.S. Representative David Cicilline (D-R.I.).
New Mexico amended its Human Rights Act in 2003 to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, and consumer credit, placing it among one of the first states to provide such strong protections for the LGBTQ community.
A copy of the bill is available here.