LGBTQ advocates won a moral victory on Thursday when U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) signed on as a co-sponsor of the Equality Act.
The Equality Act, as written, would amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide permanent nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community in the areas of employment, housing, credit, federally-funded programs, public accommodations, and jury service.
Jones’ co-sponsorship of the act, which LGBTQ advocates have been trying to pass for the past few years, brings the total number of congressional co-sponsors to 245. A number of businesses have also expressed their support for the legislation, noting that they have similar nondiscrimination protections in place for their hiring practices, and provide spousal and family benefits to LGBTQ employees.
“With his support for this crucial legislation, Senator Jones adds to the tremendous momentum for the Equality Act, and brings the number of sponsors to 245 — the most ever for any LGBTQ civil rights bill,” Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. HRC has continued to push for passage of the the bill in subsequent Congresses since it was first introduced, even though Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives have refused to allow a vote on it.
“HRC was proud to mobilize our more than 18,000 members and supporters and the nearly 200,000 Equality Voters across Alabama to support Doug Jones in the U.S. Senate race last year,” Griffin added. “Today, we are even prouder to see him using his office to push for the rights of LGBTQ people, both in his home state and across the country.”
A poll by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute recently found that nearly 70% of Americans say they would support a bill like the Equality Act that provides protections for the LGBTQ community. PRRI also found that a majority of Americans don’t support laws that would carve out religious exemptions for people with personal moral or religious objections to homosexuality or same-sex marriage.
For Jones, the issue of equality may hit close to home. His son Carson is openly gay, and became a mini-celebrity on social media after his father defeated the vehemently anti-LGBTQ former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore in December’s special election.
“Every single American should be free from discrimination based on who they are or whom they love, no matter where they live,” Jones said in a statement. “I’m proud to be a co-sponsor of the Equality Act and to continue moving conversations forward about LGBTQ equality.”
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