February 26, 2021

Cortez Masto Cosponsors Civil Rights Bill to Protect LGBTQ Americans

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) in cosponsoring the Equality Act, comprehensive civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community in the areas of employment, education, credit, jury service, federal funding, housing, and public accommodations.

“LGBTQ+ Americans have fiercely fought for social and political equality for decades but continue to face discrimination in a host of areas. No American should be excluded from fair opportunities to obtain housing, education, employment, or anything else because of who they are or who they love. I’m proud to support the Equality Act, and I will continue to fight for the fundamental rights of communities in Nevada that face harmful and unjust barriers.”


Senator Cortez Masto is a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights for Nevadans. Last year, the senator supported legislation to direct the Department of State to continue its efforts in defending the human rights of LGBTQ people around the world. She also pushed for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity to ensure the LGBTQ+ community’s needs are understood and met during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the third time Senator Cortez Masto has cosponsored the Equality Act.

Specifically, the Equality Act would do the following:

  • Codify protections to ensure compliance: Apply the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, to all areas of civil rights law that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, including education, housing, health care, credit, and jury service.
  • Add sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity to gaps in existing civil rights law: Expand Titles II, III, and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect Americans against discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in both public accommodations and federally funded programs.
  • Expand the scope of public accommodations for all protected characteristics: Update the law to ensure important providers of goods and services like retail stores, accountants, transportation providers, day care and elder care centers, salons, and banks do not discriminate on the basis of any protected characteristic.
  • Address the application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to civil rights law: Ensure that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act cannot be used by businesses, property owners, and other entities covered by federal civil rights laws to defend acts of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Ensure protections when an employer, school, property owner, or service provider discriminates based on misperceptions: Safeguard anyone who experiences discrimination based on mistaken perceptions of being a member of the LGBTQ+ community and provide the ability remedy the discrimination.