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Illinois reps praise Equality Act reintroduction
by Matt Simonette

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Illinois Congressional representatives were among those praising the reintroduction of the Equality Act, which would, if implemented, offer expansive legal protections for LGBT Americans, May 2.

"President Trump's first 100 days in office have provided little peace of mind for the LGBTQ community and has only served to illuminate the critical and urgent need to pass the Equality Act," said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley ( D-05 ) in a statement. "No matter who you are, where you come from, or who you love, all Americans deserve to be protected under the same law. No person deserves to live in fear of harassment or intolerance, and the Equality Act will help ensure LGBTQ individuals are provided with the necessary legal protections that allow them to live, work, and succeed in safe and supportive environments."

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky ( D-09 ) added in a statement, "As a founding member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, I am committed to ensuring that the LGBTQ community has the same legal protections as everyone else. The Equality Act will make sure that LGBTQ individuals are protected from discrimination in all aspects of their lives, no matter where they live. It is unconscionable that people in the United States today can be fired, evicted, or kicked out of a restaurant or hotel simply because of who they are or whom they love. Now more than ever it is crucial that we take steps to protect LGBTQ individuals from discrimination. I will do whatever it takes to ensure equality for all."

The Equality Act would expand the rights codified in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to LGBT individuals. Twenty-nine states offer no legal protections against anti-LGBT discrimination, so rights-advocates have long sought a federal rule to serve as an umbrella protection.

"No person's fundamental rights should be determined by which side of a state line they live on," said HRC President Chad Griffin in a statement. "The Equality Act will once and for all end the unacceptable patchwork of non-discrimination laws across this country that leaves LGBTQ people at risk. Every American should have a fair chance to earn a living, provide for their families, and live their lives without fear of discrimination. And at its core, that's what the Equality Act is all about."

The legislation also addresses sex-discrimination and would ensure that women ensure equal access to services and public-accommodations. For example, it would ensure that women are not overcharged by contractors and could not be refused service at pharmacies when trying to access birth control.

The Equality Act was first introduced in 2015 by U.S. Rep. David Cicilline ( D-RI ) but never received a vote. Cicilline and U.S. Rep. Jeff Merkley ( D-OR ) are sponsors of the new iteration of the bill, which reportedly is not significantly different from the original.

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