- The Magazine
Mondaire Jones, one of the first out LGBTQ Black Members of Congress and a Co-Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, remarked on the historic Equality Act during the House debate on the bill, just ahead of the vote, Thursday, Feb. 25. The act would outlaw discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals and includes the Juror Non-Discrimination Act, a bill introduced by Jones, that would ban discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in the juror selection process.
“Madam Speaker, it is not often that this chamber does remarkable things,” said the 33-year-old Democratic Congressman from New York’s 17th District. “Today, we pass the Equality Act, which includes my bill — the Juror Non-Discrimination Act. This has been a long time coming, and it represents progress I did not always believe was possible. To grow up poor, Black, and gay is to not see yourself anywhere. It is also to feel completely unseen, as so many people around you invalidate your very existence.
“Growing up, I watched helplessly as opportunistic, straight politicians — mostly white, nearly all men — used my basic human rights as a political football to further their careers. Had this legislation been enacted when I was growing up, it would have been direct evidence that everything would be okay, that I did not have to hide or cry so much.
“Since my childhood, things have gotten better. But it hasn’t been simply because time passed. It’s been because countless LGBTQ advocates made life better. Today, we send a powerful message to millions of LGBTQ people all across this country and around the world. That they are seen. That they are valued. That they are worthy of protection. How remarkable that is.”
Watch Jones’ full remarks below (and then scroll down for our cover story interview with him):
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