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Chairman Nadler Floor Statement in Support of H.R. 5, the Equality Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following statement on the House floor in support of H.R. 5, the Equality Act, which explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity:

"I rise today in strong support of H.R. 5, the 'Equality Act,' which amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other core civil rights statutes, to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill would also strengthen non-discrimination protections for women and others.

"In short, this long overdue legislation will provide millions of LGBTQ Americans explicit protections from being denied medical care, fired from their jobs, or thrown out of their homes simply because of who they are.

"Much of the history of the United States has been about expanding the definition of who is understood to be included when the Declaration of Independence says, 'all men are created equal.'  When these words were first written, that phrase did not include black and Latino men; it did not include Native Americans; it did not include women; and it did not include LGBTQ individuals.

"Once again, we have an opportunity to continue our march toward justice—to enshrine in our nation’s laws protections for marginalized communities to ensure that everyone can fully participate in key areas of life, and to provide them recourse in the face of discrimination.

"Today, I expect we will hear arguments asking us to pick and choose which of our nation’s children deserve our support—to pick which of our children are valuable enough to have a right to live their lives to the fullest. 

"But that is a false choice—one designed to pit rights for some against rights for all. There is no question that all our children—including those that are transgender—deserve the freedom to choose their own path.

"Many of the protections codified by this bill already exist throughout the country, whether through court decisions or in state laws. In those places women still have rights, religious freedom is still protected, parents are still involved in their children’s healthcare, and doctors are still free to exercise their professional medical judgment. And trans athletes, from high schools to the Olympic trials, sometimes win and sometimes lose, just like everyone else.

"But the ability to have a job, to receive medical care, or to rent a home should not depend on who someone is, where they happen to live, or who represents them. LGBTQ people should not have to worry that a future Supreme Court could rip away their existing protections, and they deserve the same protections as other communities that have historically faced discrimination. And that requires action from Congress.

"For decades, the LGBTQ community has been telling us their stories of outrageous discrimination. To my colleagues, I say, it is far past time we stop asking them to come to the Capitol just to defend their existence.

"To the LGBTQ community—and in particular the trans youth and athletes who I expect will hear themselves demonized on the floor today—we see you, we appreciate you, we value you. And we will continue to fight for you.

"I thank the gentleman from Rhode Island, Mr. Cicilline, for his tireless leadership in introducing this bill and helping to shepherd it through the legislative process.

"I urge my colleagues to support this landmark legislation and I reserve the balance of my time."
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