U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, the 6th District’s congressman, voted to support the Equality Act in the House of Representatives on May 17.
The bipartisan legislation received the support of 236 House members to guarantee LGBTQ Americans protection of federal civil rights laws by extending anti-discrimination protections to employment, education, access to credit, jury service, federal funding, housing and public accommodations.
“Every American deserves to have access to the same basic civil rights, regardless of who they are or whom they love,” Kilmer, a Democrat, said after the vote.
“I’m proud to represent a state that provides protections to ensure that LGBTQ Washingtonians don’t face discrimination, but it’s important that Congress passed vital legislation today to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans in every corner of the nation.
“Fairness and equality are core American values, and our LGBTQ friends and neighbors should be guaranteed the same basic civil rights and opportunities as anyone else — whether they’re dealing with employment, education, credit, jury service, federal funding, housing or starting a family.”
In the United States, Kilmer’s office stated in a news release, 21 states have explicit laws barring discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations, and 20 states have such protections for gender identity.
In many states, a same-sex couple can get married one day and legally denied service at a restaurant, be fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartment the next, Kilmer said. The existing patchwork of legal protections for LGBTQ people leaves millions of Americans subject to uncertainty and potential discrimination, he said.
The Equality Act amends existing federal civil rights laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Jury Selection and Services Act and several laws regarding employment with the federal government. The act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, federal jury service, public accommodations and the use of federal funds.