May 09, 2019

New Democrat Coalition Endorses H.R. 5, The Equality Act

The House New Democrat Coalition announced its endorsement of H.R. 5, the Equality Act, a bill to ban discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in arenas such as housing, employment, federal funding, education, credit, and jury service.

The Equality Act will amend the Civil Rights Act to illegalize discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. New Democrat Coalition Members have long pushed for equal rights legislation to protect LGBTQ Americans, and this legislation would help our country take an important step forward towards protecting their rights.

“This has been a long fight, but we’ve gotten this critical legislation its day on the floor of the House and we couldn’t be happier,” said New Democrat Coalition Vice Chair for Communications Representative Ann Kuster. “We know the discrimination that our LGBTQ sisters & brothers still face. As Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, I think it is so important to recognize that they also still face harassment and violence at rates sometimes significantly higher than other Americans. Discrimination that goes unchallenged can create a climate where violence and abuse festers. We in Congress can send a clear signal that discrimination in our jobs, schools and beyond is wrong and will not be tolerated.”

“Congress has not honored our promise and our duty to the Constitution, and this is very personal for me. I am the mother of a gay daughter, my Molly. There comes a day when you wake up in the United States of America as a mother and you realize your child, my Molly, could lose her job or be denied housing simply because of who she is and who she loves,” said New Democrat Coalition Freshman Leadership Representative Chrissy Houlahan. “I refuse to stand by and watch our country fail to live up to its promise to all Americans. Passing the Equality Act should not be up for debate… This isn’t just an LGBTQ issue, it’s an American issue.” 

“We stand here today because although our nation was founded on the promise of justice and equality, we have more work to do to fully ensure that promise is delivered to each and every American.  I grew up afraid that I couldn’t live my truth, that I couldn’t be who I am, that I wouldn’t be supported by my family and larger community. It makes a profound statement that I can stand here today as an out-LGBTQ Member of Congress representing my home state,” said New Democrat Coalition Future of Work Task Force Co-Chair Chris Pappas. “As a small business owner and a Co-Chair of the Future of Work Task Force, I can attest that protecting our employees and customers from discrimination isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good for business. If we want to remain competitive in a rapidly changing global economy, if we want to retain our advantage, we must create an inclusive environment that encourages our businesses to recruit and retain the best and the brightest that the US has to offer. It’s time for Congress to do the right thing. It’s time for full equality under the law, nothing more and nothing less.”

“The Equality Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation we can pass this Congress,” said New Democrat Coalition Vice Chair for Policy Suzan DelBene. “As New Democrats, which is the largest caucus in the Democratic caucus, we know that the value of someone’s work is not based on who you love but rather on how well you do your job. It’s important that we provide opportunities to allow everyone to compete in a fair environment. Equality is good business. Many LGBTQ Americans are living in fear that they could be fired, so in the coming weeks, I look forward to casting my vote, along with my colleagues here, to pass the Equality Act.”  

“As Americans, we can all agree that discrimination is wrong, but in 30 states today, LGBTQ people remain at risk for being fired from our jobs, evicted from our homes, or denied services simply because of who we are. No one’s fundamental rights should depend on which side of a state line they live on, and that’s why we need the Equality Act now.  This bill is grounded in commonsense, and it’s rooted in our most fundamental value of shared justice under law,” said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “The Equality Act has the support of more than 280 Members of Congress – Democrats and Republicans. It has the support of more than 500 medical, child welfare, religious, and social justice organizations. It has the bipartisan support of 7 out of 10 Americans, including majorities in every single state in this country. In America, we share a belief that every person should have a fair chance to earn a living, to provide for their families, and to live their lives free from discrimination. At its core, that’s what this bill is all about.”

“Salesforce is proud to be a member of HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act. Equality is one of our core values, and for years, we have been outspoken as a company against discriminatory legislation that targets the LGBTQ community in places where we do our business. We’ve taken on this responsibility because Salesforce employees deserve to be treated equally under the law, no matter where they live or where they work,” said Niki Christoff, Senior Vice President for Strategy & Government Relations of Salesforce. “That’s why we’re advocating as a company for clear and consistent protections from LGBTQ discrimination across America. We support the Equality Act so all Americans can be protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and we applaud the New Democrat Coalition for endorsing this legislation.”

“Today, 35 years after IBM declared it would not discriminate against LGBT people in the workplace, I am here to say that a federal law protecting the civil rights of these citizens is long, long overdue. For our company, like many companies in HRC’s Business Coalition, equality is a core value, but it’s also a business imperative. The United States faces today a shortage of skilled talent in key technology areas, like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and cyber security. We cannot find enough people to fill these jobs. Why on Earth would we exclude people, who have those skills, from our workforce simply because of their LGBTQ status,” said Chris Padilla, Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs of IBM. “Diversity in our society is a reality. It is a fact of life, but inclusion is hard work, and we all have to stand up for equality. IBM is proud to do so and we urge Congress to pass the Equality Act as soon as possible.” 

“Manufacturers have made great strides in providing non-discrimination protections in the workplace, even in places where state law may not require them. But there is still further to go, and we believe now is the time to act to pass the Equality Act,” said Patrick Hedren, Vice President of Labor, Legal and Regulatory Policy at the NAM.

The New Democrat Coalition announced its endorsement of H.R. 5 at a press conference in front of the Capitol. Watch the full press conference here.