WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative David Cicilline introduced the Equality Act in both houses of the U.S. Congress. This legislation would update a number of key civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Following the introduction of this historic legislation Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of Interfaith Alliance, released this statement:

“The Equality Act is the most comprehensive proposal to safeguard the equal rights of all Americans ever put before the U.S. Congress. By prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and several other key areas, this legislation is a guarantee of the freedoms promised each of us by the Constitution for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Most importantly, the bill accomplishes this push toward a more complete equality without creating a new religious exemption. The tension between civil rights and religious freedom is neither unprecedented nor unmanageable. By drawing on the existing religious exemptions that have shaped these civil rights laws for decades, this bill ensures that anti-LGBT animus is not considered more legitimate, more worthy of protection, than any other form of religious belief.

“This legislation may not solve every problem regarding religious freedom and civil rights in America, certainly it does not supplant the need for a legislative fix to the disastrous Hobby Lobby decision. But we cannot ask the LGBT community to live without their overdue equality any longer.”

Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.