Schakowsky Statement on Passage of the Equality Act

February 25, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Founding Member of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, voted for H.R. 5, the Equality Act, which passed the House by a vote of 224-206. She released the following statement after the vote:

“As the proud grandmother of a young transgender man, today I cast my vote for, and helped pass, the Equality Act. This landmark bill will protect my grandson, and all LGBTQ people, from discrimination in housing, employment, education, banking, public accommodations, jury service, and so much more. To this day, our LGBTQ community members confront discrimination regularly and with little recourse. As a result, many have been forced into poverty, funneled into the criminal justice system, suffered negative physical and mental health consequences, and worst of all have been pushed to suicide. This type of discrimination goes against our core American values of equality and fairness, and it cannot stand. The Equality Act will fix existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity to ensure that EVERYONE is treated equally under the law.

“Despite passing the House in the last Congress, the Equality Act was doomed to fail in a Senate controlled by Mitch McConnell and a White House controlled by Donald Trump. With the 2020 election, the American people said NO to hate, NO to cruelty, and NO to intolerance. I was thrilled to see President Biden sign the most substantive, wide-ranging LGBTQ executive order in U.S. history on his first day in office. This order directs all agencies to enforce federal anti-discrimination laws in a way that includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This will have a real and practical impact on the daily lives of LGBTQ adults and children, and will help stop discrimination in employment, education, health care, and housing. However, it is up to Congress to codify these protections, so that our LGBTQ community continues to be protected even after President Biden leaves office. It is up to us to ensure that EVERYONE can work, go to school, provide a home for their families, and access essential services without fear of harassment or discrimination

“As my late colleague and dear friend John Lewis said, ‘From the day that I was a young child growing up in rural Alabama, and I saw those signs that said: “white men, colored men, white women, colored women,” I dreamed that the day would come when I would stand up, and speak up, and speak out against discrimination...This is the time to pass the Equality Act. We need it to set all our people free.’ I am so happy we could honor his memory today. I will keep working to ensure this bill is passed in the Senate and signed into law by President Biden so that we truly can set ALL our people free.”