Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference Ahead of House Passage of the Equality Act

February 25, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Democratic leaders of the House and Senate for a press conference ahead of House passage of H.R. 5, the Equality Act.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you very much, Senator.  And thank you for your leadership on this important issue.  It's an honor to welcome you over to the House side.  As always, a pleasure to welcome back the distinguished, now, Majority Leader of the Senate back.  Senator –

Leader Schumer.  It is always a pleasure to be back.  

[Laughter]

Speaker Pelosi.  And even more of a pleasure with Senator Baldwin with you returning to the House.  We always took such pride in her being in the House and then when she went on to the Senate, as well.  And thank you for being here for this very special occasion for all of us.  Senator Booker, welcome to the House.  Not necessarily back, but welcome. 

It’s an honor to be here with –

Leader Schumer.  He might get there one day.

[Laughter]

Speaker Pelosi.  Mr. Takano, the Chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, but a leader in the Equality Caucus.  And, of course, our Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Nadler, who has made so many things possible for us.  It's an honor to be with you. 

David Cicilline is a person we're very, very proud of and we thank you, David, for giving us this opportunity today.  And to you, Senator Merkley. 

Senator Merkley referenced to when we were together five years ago – we were in the LBJ Room, as a matter of fact, over on the Senate side – when this Equality Act was introduced.  Senator Merkley, Congressman Cicilline were the lead sponsors, but as Senator Merkley mentioned, right there standing with them was John Lewis, and that was very important. 

Again, we stood there with an icon of the civil rights movement in a room named for LBJ, who had been the sponsor – who fought for and signed the civil rights bill.  The Civil Rights Act is a pillar of freedom in our country.  It is not amended lightly.  So, how proud were we to have our beloved, as I said, John Lewis, and the Congressional Black Caucus with us on that day, as they gave their imprimatur to opening up the Civil Rights Act to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

The two sponsors of the bill have said why this is necessary – it shouldn't be necessary, but why it is necessary and why it's important for us to act.  And as we remember, John Lewis’s life, we remember his words spoken at the Pride parade, the Pride parade in Atlanta, shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, ‘We are one people, one family.  We all live in the same house.’  And those words have been an inspiration to us. 

In closing, I just want to say that our two lead sponsors, Senator Merkley and Mr. Cicilline, talked about the outside groups who are endorsing this legislation and I want to thank all of them.  For some, it's the easiest thing in the world.  For others, it took a level of courage and a, shall we say, fortitude to go forward.  But all of them very important.  As we do our inside maneuvering to get as many votes as possible, hopefully as bipartisan as possible, the outside mobilization, so essential to bring a drum – to have a drumbeat across America, for freedom, for liberty and justice for all. 

Thank you all very much for being here.  I’m going to excuse myself to go to the Floor, as we have the bill on the Floor right now and I don't want to lose my time.  I don't know who's in charge there, but I don't want to lose my time. 

[Laughter]

With that, I'm very pleased to yield to the distinguished former Member of the House, now Majority Leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, and a champion on this issue when he was in the House and now as the Leader in the Senate.  Welcome.