EQUALITY ACT

May 17, 2019
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Madam Speaker, today is a historic day. Sixty-five years ago today, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that racially segregated schools were inherently unequal and, therefore, unconstitutional.

   Today is also a historic day for the LGBTQ community, because today the House of Representatives will pass the Equality Act.

   Over the last decade, we have made progress in securing rights for the LGBT community, including marriage equality and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. However, many legal barriers still remain.

   Only a handful of States have explicit laws barring discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations, and even fewer have protections for gender identity.

   The inconsistent patchwork of State laws leaves many people vulnerable to discrimination at work, at school, and in many other parts of their daily lives.

   As chairman, I was proud to hold a hearing on this important civil rights legislation in the Committee on Education and Labor. Witnesses testified that all too many Americans are experiencing discrimination in their everyday lives, especially the workplace, and even in the educational system, where many of them are experiencing discrimination, even in elementary school. This is not acceptable.

   This bill also ensures that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the RFRA, cannot be used as a free pass to discriminate.

   RFRA was originally enacted as a shield to serve as a safeguard for religious freedom, but recently it has been used as a sword to cut down the civil rights of too many individuals.

   Freedom from discrimination is a core American value.

   Madam Speaker, passage of this bill is long overdue. We must affirm that all Americans are equally protected from discrimination under the law. I, therefore, urge all of my colleagues to support this legislation.

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