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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 5, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 14
Rep. Pramila Jayapal gives personal and emotional speech in support of the Equality Act
Section One
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Rep. Pramila Jayapal gives personal and emotional speech in support of the Equality Act

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

As a co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, Seattle-area Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal was expected to support the Equality Act, but in an emotional April 2 speech, she revealed she had deeply personal interests in LGBTQ civil rights protections.

'My beautiful, now-22-year-old child told me last year that they were gender non-conforming,' she said.

'And over the last year, I have come to understand from a deeply personal mother's perspective - I've always been a civil rights activist, I've always fought for my constituents and my communities to have equal rights - but from a mother's perspective, I came to understand what their newfound freedom - it is the only way I can describe what has happened to my beautiful child, what their newfound freedom to wear a dress, to rid themselves of some conformist stereotype of what they are, to be able to express who they are at their real core.'

As her speech continued, she explained how her child has become more expressive and creative since coming out.

'Since this deeply impactful moment last year, my child - who has always done well in school but has carried what a mother can only describe as a heavy burden of conflict in their own being that I could not fully identify or help to express,' she said.

'Since this deeply impactful moment last year, my child's embracing of their nonconforming gender identity and all that it has allowed, all that it allows in terms of their creativity, their brilliance, their self-expression, the only thought I wake up with every day is my child is free.

'My child is free to be who they are. And in that freedom comes a responsibility for us as legislators to protect their freedom to be who they are and to legislate& our behavior towards all people in our society.'

For the Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31, several members of Congress, including Jayapal, put up Trans flags outside their offices on Capitol Hill. The Equality Act, recently re-introduced by Democrats in Congress, extends federal civil rights protections to LGBTQ Americans.

It would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If passed, it would prohibit discrimination in various areas, including employment, housing, public accommodation, credit, and other areas.

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