For the first time in the history of the U.S. government, the House of Representatives voted to ban employment discrimination against LGBTQ staff members as part of a package of rules that will govern the chamber over the next two years.
The new rule was championed by Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, one of eight openly LGBTQ legislators in the new Democratic-controlled House.
“Government at its best works for the benefit of all Americans, not just the powerful and privileged,” said Cicilline said in a statement to NBC Out. “Protecting the rights of LGBT employees is just the right thing to do.”
LGBTQ advocacy group The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement hailing the new rule as “an historic moment for our country.”
“For the first time ever, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity will be banned in the House of Representatives,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “This action to protect LGBTQ congressional employees from discrimination is the result of millions of Equality Voters going to the polls in November to ensure their voices were heard and demanding a Congress that looks like America.”
Many Americans erroneously believe that LGBTQ discrimination is illegal across the United States.
But, as the HRC notes, half of LGBTQ Americans live in states without legal protections in regard to employment, housing and other arenas. Click here to see where your state stands on LGBTQ protections in the workplace.
Instinct previously reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced she plans to make passage of The Equality Act a priority in the new Congress.
The Equality Act would amend existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes from discrimination.