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Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, in her leadership role at the Business Roundtable, has penned a sharply worded letter calling on Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ Americans from a broad range of discrimination.

Why it matters: While IBM has supported such legislation in the past, it's the first time the Business Roundtable has taken on the issue in such a high-profile and concerted manner.

Details: The Equality Act would amend several existing federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, offering protection in areas ranging from employment and housing to credit and public accommodations.

"As employers, America's leading companies know that our economy works best when our employees can be who they are, without fear of bias, discrimination, or inequality – in the workplace or in their communities," writes Rometty, who heads the Business Roundtable's education and workforce committee.

Between the lines: Despite some bipartisan support and significant corporate backing, the bill faces a challenge given Republican control of the Senate and White House.

The letter, addressed to Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), notes that most large businesses have already added nondiscrimination policies protecting LGBTQ workers from discrimination.

"We can control what happens in our workplaces but that’s not enough," IBM government affairs VP Chris Padilla told Axios. "Employees need to be protected not just in the workplace but in society in general."

Go deeper: Here's the full text of Rometty's letter.

On behalf of the CEO members of Business Roundtable who lead companies with more than 15 million employees, we write in support of the Equality Act.
Equality and fairness are core American values. 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.
As employers, America’s leading companies know that our economy works best when our employees can be who they are, without fear of bias, discrimination, or inequality in the workplace or in their communities. And as Americans, we are firmly committed to the principles of equality and fairness that have distinguished our nation since its founding.
Diversity is a fact, but inclusion is hard work. Most American companies long ago included sexual orientation and gender identity in their non- discrimination polices. It is time for the federal government to make it the law of the land. The Business Roundtable endorses the Equality Act and urges that it be enacted by Congress without delay.
Sincerely,
Ginni Rometty
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer IBM Corporation
Chair, Education and Workforce Committee Business Roundtable

Go deeper

Parkland shooting victims' families settle suit with school district

A makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Families and survivors of a 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., reached a $25 million settlement in their lawsuit against the Broward County school district Monday, per the South Florida SunSentinel.

Why it matters: The deal was reached in the suit over the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High after the school district won a Florida Supreme Court ruling that could have capped damages at $300,000 in total without approval from the state legislature, AP notes.

Texas Republicans pass new congressional maps in their favor

Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas House voted 84-59 late Monday to approve new congressional district maps that reduce the number of districts with Black and Hispanic majorities, per the Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: The legislation comes after recent census figures found Texas' growing diverse population doesn't bode well for Republicans, who then worked to protect incumbents with the redrawn maps.

2 hours ago - World

North Korea's military fires another ballistic missile into sea

A woman in Seoul, South Korea, walks past a television image if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired at least one ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday, per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.