In June 2015, our Nation took a step forward when the Supreme Court decided that it was unconstitutional for states to ban same-sex marriage. Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people is intolerable and is not in line with our American values. While this decision was a milestone for the LGBT community, it is clear more must be done to ensure all Americans are treated equally under the law. I have continuously supported legislation that protects those in the LGBT community and works to end discrimination.
I was an original cosponsor of H.R. 3185, the Equality Act, introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), during the 114th Congress. The Equality Act would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Specifically, this legislation would have extended anti-discrimination protections in public accommodations, housing, employment, federal funding, education, credit, and jury service. I look forward to cosponsoring this legislation again when it is reintroduced during the 115th Congress.
Similarly, I was also a cosponsor of H.R. 5586, the Customer Non-Discrimination Act, during the 114th Congress. H.R. 5586, introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), would have amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation in places of public accommodation. This bill would have expanded the categories of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide: exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; goods, services, or programs; or transportation services. This bill has yet to be reintroduced in the 115th Congress and I look forward to cosponsoring it again.
It is our responsibility as Americans to treat our neighbors equally and with respect. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to advance legislation that promotes fairness, justice, and equality under the law.
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This week, I cosponsored several important pieces of legislation to prevent bullying in schools, improve climate literacy, incentivize the use of sustainable fuel, improve housing equity and accessibility, invest in girls’ civic education globally, recognize the contributions of immigrants, and expand the program to provide visas to our Afghan allies as the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan.
Last week, I voted to make Juneteenth a federal holiday and to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) Against Iraq. I also cosponsored several important pieces of legislation to expand access to education funding, ensure access to food assistance, protect older workers, provide support for caregivers of elderly Americans, assert U.S. leadership in the global equality of those in the LGBTQ+ community, and authorize funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
This week, we witnessed racism and misogyny on display as eight people were senselessly murdered in Atlanta. The rise in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans in the last year follows a disturbing trend and is made worse by the discriminatory language used by leaders in our public spaces. The shooting in Atlanta is the latest violent act perpetrated on innocent victims, and another example that we don’t need of why this country’s gun laws do not keep us safe. We must do better to hold accountable those whose actions and inactions led to this week’s shooting.
This week, the House passed legislation to reform our elections for the people, and to enact sweeping reforms to policing. I chaired a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing focused on the challenged for the Biden administration regarding Venezuela. I also signed onto legislation to increase background checks for firearms, increase screening for colorectal cancer, ensure veterans who worked with atomic radiation are fairly compensated, protect LGBTQ+ youth, and to increase standards for pregnant women being detained.
Last week, the House passed the American Rescue Plan, a comprehensive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that will help hard-working Americans and reinvigorate our economy. The House also passed legislation to ensure equal rights regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. I attended a markup of the American Rescue Plan with the House Committee on the Budget and attended a markup for the House Foreign Affairs Committee on legislation to revitalize the State Department.
In the 117th Congress, I am looking forward to returning to the three committees on which I served in the 116th Congress: the House Committees on the Budget, Foreign Affairs, and Transportation and Infrastructure. I am honored to be returning as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
Last week, the House voted on the Conference Report to accompany the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) funding bill and a crucial stopgap funding bill to help avert a government shutdown while a larger package is negotiated. On Wednesday, I was honored to receive the In Defense of Christian’s 2020 Congressional Champion Award. I cosponsored legislation to protect providers from Medicare cuts in the midst of the pandemic, help those people facing eviction, support children with disabilities, and supporting human rights across the globe.
Last week, I joined the Congressional Labor Caucus, and cosponsored legislation to raise the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) monthly benefits, help ensure children do not go hungry during the pandemic, raise the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2021, help students refinance their student loans, and ensure humane treatment of animals in any research and testing.
This week, I joined the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey to discuss affordable housing in the 8th District. I introduced legislation to support our economic partners in Latin America and the Caribbean and cosponsored legislation to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to schools, get surplus computers to our nation’s veterans and students, and reaffirm our commitment to marriage equality.
(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) has introduced the House companion to Senator Menendez’s Equal Access to Information Act. This legislation would require federal agencies to ensure language access and multilingual resources for all communities regardless of English proficiency.