Bill Introduced to Ban LGBT Discrimination, Includes New Housing Protections
Recently, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the “Equality Act,” S. 1858, and Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced its companion bill, H.R. 3185. It’s the first comprehensive and inclusive piece of federal legislation to encompass the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community alongside those who have been traditionally protected by civil rights legislation. The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity in such matters as employment, education, and housing. The bill also would amend the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
A landmark study conducted by HUD found that same-sex couples are significantly less likely than heterosexual couples to get favorable responses to email inquiries about electronically advertised rental housing. To address this problem, the bill would amend the Fair Housing Act so that sexual orientation and gender identity, either actual or perceived, would be included among the law’s list of protected personal characteristics. Currently the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, family status, or disability.
The Senate bill has 39 cosponsors and was referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. In the House, the bill has 168 cosponsors and was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the Committee on Financial Services, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Administration.