IBM chief, other business leaders push Congress to pass Equality Act

IBM chief, other business leaders push Congress to pass Equality Act
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IBM chief Ginni Rometty on Thursday led a group of business leaders pressing Congress to pass the Equality Act, a piece of federal legislation that would guarantee protections for LGBTQ people. 

In a letter addressed to Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment House votes to kill impeachment effort against Trump MORE (D-R.I.) and Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations Senate Democrat releasing book on Trump admin's treatment of migrants at border MORE (D-Ore.), Rometty and a host of other powerful CEOs argue the government should enshrine civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people.

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"Most American companies long ago included sexual orientation and gender identity in their nondiscrimination polices," Rometty wrote. "It is time for the federal government to do the same." 

Cicilline and Merkley introduced the Equality Act in the House and Senate during the 115th Congress. A spokesperson for Cicilline told The Hill that the lawmakers would reintroduce the act next Wednesday.

Rometty wrote the letter as chairwoman of the Business Roundtable's "education and workforce" committee. The Business Roundtable is composed of CEOs of the country's leading corporations. 

"Equality and fairness are core American values," Rometty wrote. "It is these values that lead us to strongly endorse the Equality Act, which will enshrine into federal law clear, consistent and comprehensive protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity."

IBM and other major companies including Google, Apple and Facebook have long advocated for the Equality Act, which has been introduced in different forms since 1974. 

Cicilline's and Merkley's offices did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.

During the previous Congress, the bill received 201 co-sponsors in the House, including a handful of Republicans.

Rometty's letter is the most public display of support for the Equality Act by the Business Roundtable in recent years. 

Updated 5:05 p.m.