Mark Kirk is first Senate Republican to co-sponsor federal LGBT protections bill

Wed. January 20, 2016 2:04 PM by Carlos Santoscoy

Washington, D.C. - Illinois Senator Mark Kirk this week announced his support for the Equality Act, making him the first Senate Republican to back the proposed legislation.

Introduced by Democrats last year, the Equality Act seeks to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in seven key areas, including credit, education, employment, federal funding, housing, jury service and public accommodations, by effectively expanding the Civil Rights Act, originally approved in 1964.

"Discrimination on the basis of being gay is against the law in Illinois and should be against the law nationwide," Kirk said in a statement given to the Washington Blade.

Earlier this month, Illinois Rep. Bob Dold became the first Republican to co-sponsor the Equality Act.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, applauded Kirk's move.

"Senator Kirk has once again proven his leadership, by becoming the first Republican Senator to co-sponsor the Equality Act," said Griffin. "His support for the Equality Act sends a strong message that fairness and equality are bipartisan values. It also reflects the view of the overwhelming majority of all Americans who believe that everyone, including LGBT people, should be able to have a fair chance to earn a living, provide for their families, and live free from fear of discrimination."

Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, added: "We hope other Senate Republicans will follow Senator Kirk's leadership and, in the best tradition of their party, allow each individual to flourish by prohibiting discrimination."

(Related: White House backs LGBT protections bill.)

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine