The Equality Act Re-introduced Today With Unanimous Support From New Jersey’s Democratic Congressional Delegation

Garden State Equality celebrates the re-introduction of federal legislation to protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination with broad New Jersey support

Today, lawmakers in Washington, D.C. will re-introduce The Equality Act, which would provide explicit federal non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans. The bill has unanimous support from New Jersey’s Democratic Congressional Delegation and is a top legislative priority for the pro-equality majority.

The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other related laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations. The Equality Act was first introduced in 2015 and again in 2017. The Equality Act would also prohibit discrimination in credit, public education, federally-funded programs, and jury service.

“While LGBTQ New Jerseyans enjoy commonsense legal protections against discrimination, 44% of LGBTQ Americans still live in states where it is legal to fire, deny housing, or refuse service to someone simply because of who they are or who they love,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director of Garden State Equality. “It is critical that we pass The Equality Act in Congress this session to ensure equality under the law truly means equality for all, and I am proud that New Jersey’s congressional delegation is leading the way in championing civil rights for LGBTQ Americans across the nation.”

U.S. Senator Cory Booker is a primary sponsor of the bill, with the entire Democratic Congressional Delegation joining as co-sponsors.

“We must end discrimination in all forms, and I’ll fight until we achieve full equality for all Americans, including members of our LGBTQ communities,” said Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01). “Every American should have a legal option when discrimination or harassment occurs – and no one should be forced to live in fear. Diversity is America’s strength and compassion is our value; the Equality Act is a clear necessity, since it would once and for all, under law, protect millions of Americans.”

“No American should be discriminated against, fired, denied housing or refused service simply because of who they are. These lack of protections for the LGBTQ community are simply un-American and do not reflect the values of our country and our communities,” said Representative Andy Kim (NJ-03). “I am proud to co-sponsor and will be proud to vote for H.R. 5, and call on my colleagues in the House and Senate to join me in supporting this important effort to expand human rights for all Americans.”

“Who you love shouldn’t determine if you get a bank loan, a job, or an education,” said Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11). “Though New Jersey is a leader when it comes to equal treatment for our LGBTQ community, the fact remains that across the country it is still legal to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans in employment, housing, and education. I’m proud to co-sponsor the Equality Act and lead this fight for fairness.”

“I am proud that New Jersey provides legal protections for our LGBTQ friends and colleagues, but in 30 states, LGBTQ people are at risk of being fired, refused housing or denied services because of who they are,” said Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), the author of the Customer Non-Discrimination Act which is among the provisions included in the Equality Act. “The Equality Act would change that, ensuring that no one can discriminate against LGBTQ Americans anywhere, period. This is another example of the real work that we’re doing under Democratic leadership to uphold American values like fairness and the protection of human rights, values I have always and will always fight for. I look forward to working with my colleagues to finally pass this comprehensive bill.”

“No one should ever be discriminated against, live in fear of being fired, or be denied equal basic protections under the law because of who they love,” said Representative Frank Pallone (NJ-06). “As a longtime advocate for LGBTQ equality, I am proud to help lead the fight to rid our country of this unacceptable discrimination. The Equality Act would ensure that all Americans, regardless of gender and sexual orientation, who only want to have the opportunity to work hard and earn a living, can continue to do so free from fear of discrimination.”

"All Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, must be treated equally under the law," said Representative Jefferson Van Drew (NJ-02). "While legal protections for LGBTQ people in New Jersey were put in place in the nineties, the fact is that many states do not have laws in place to protect them from discrimination in employment, housing, & other core areas of life. Fairness and equality are core American values and it is time we finally fully end discrimination against LGBTQ Americans."

An August 2018 poll by PRRI showed that that 71% of Americans support nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

New Jersey’s nondiscrimination laws were amended in 1991 to include sexual orientation and again in 2006 to include gender identity, but a patchwork of laws across the country means 44% of the American LGBTQ population have no statewide protections from discrimination:

  • 28 states lack any nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
  • 20 states and the District of Columbia protect LGBTQ people with nondiscrimination laws covering employment, housing, and public accommodations.
  • Utah provides LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections for housing and employment but not for public accommodations.
  • Wisconsin provides nondiscrimination protections for employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation but not gender identity.