Norton Speaks Out on House Passage of the Equality Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), a cosponsor of the Equality Act, praised its passage in the House today, affording nationwide protection against discrimination for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, credit, education, public service and spaces, federally funded programs and jury service. Equality for all Americans has long been a signature issue for Norton, but her work for equal treatment for the LGBTQ community has long taken an additional dimension because Republicans have often tried and used the District of Columbia’s status as a weapon against the LGBTQ community. Opponents of equality for the LGBTQ community have consistently targeted the District of Columbia to pass their discriminatory agenda. Norton has fought them off at every turn, beginning with protecting D.C.’s domestic partnerships law, ahead of its time in 1992, defending the District’s marriage equality and same-sex adoptions laws, and protecting D.C.’s law that prohibits religiously affiliated schools from denying LGBTQ students access to services and facilities. In addition, Norton recently reintroduced bills to protect LGBTQ jurors from discrimination in local D.C. courts, action only Congress can take, and to end the unique applicability of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) to the District.
“Today’s Equality Act passage gives me special joy,” Norton said. “This bill fills a large space I have tried to fill ever since being elected to Congress. My work for the LGBTQ community has come naturally. As a lifelong fighter for equal rights, I saw congressional failure to address discrimination against the LGBTQ community as no different from congressional failure to bar segregation in the public schools I attended as a child in the District, or to address discrimination in voting rights and public accommodations I went to Mississippi to fight as a student in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
“Today’s equality bill is uniquely comprehensive. Historically, when Congress has passed civil rights legislation, it typically has done so by category, whether in employment, or housing, or the rest. However, that Equality Act encompasses all forms of typical discrimination sends a special message. It is too late for anything except legislation that takes on discrimination against our LGBTQ community once and for all.”