Today, Democratic lawmakers—including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer—join an unprecedented number of businesses (more than 90) to announce the reintroduction of the Equality Act. This legislation, a previous version of which stalled in a House committee during President Obama’s tenure, would finally secure specific, permanent protections for LGBTQ people under existing federal civil rights laws. The bill proposes to expand protections for our community in crucial walks of life, such as employment, housing, education, access to public spaces and accommodations, jury service and federally-funded programs.
“No person’s fundamental rights should be determined by which side of a state line they live on,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The Equality Act will once and for all end the unacceptable patchwork of nondiscrimination laws across this country that leaves LGBTQ people at risk. Every American should have a fair chance to earn a living, provide for their families, and live their lives without fear of discrimination. And at its core, that’s what the Equality Act is all about.”
Although 240 members of Congress are co-sponsoring the bipartisan Equality Act, the legislation likely faces resistance from factions of the Republican-dominated House and Senate, in addition to possible battles forged against it by the less-than-LGBTQ-friendly Trump administration. However, if eventually passed, the Equality Act would update the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make sexual orientation and gender identity classifications protected under the umbrella of federal non-discrimination laws.
In the current political climate, ensuring that LGBTQ citizens remain safe and protected by our government is perhaps more vitally important than ever to the physical, emotional and psychological well-being and livelihoods of our community’s members. According to a statement released by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC),
- “The Equality Act has unprecedented support from the business community: More than 90 major corporations have now joined HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act.
- Discrimination is a real and persistent problem for far too many LGBTQ Americans. HRC polling has found that nearly two-thirds of self-identified LGBTQ Americans report experiencing discrimination.
- Currently, 50 percent of LGBTQ Americans live in states where they are at risk of being fired, denied housing, or refused service because of who they are. 31 states still lack fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
- The overwhelming majority of Americans support full federal equality for LGBTQ people. Polling released last year by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that support for a bill like the Equality Act topped 70 percent nationally, including a majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.”
Read more from HRC about the pivotal significance of the Equality Act.