Federal Equality Act Will Protect LGBT People from Discrimination
Equality Federation Hails Historic Legislation to Ensure All Americans Are Free From Unfair Discrimination

Charlotte, NC – Today the Equality Act was introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in the U.S. Senate and Representative Cicilline (D-RI) in the U.S. House of Representatives, including co-sponsors Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and John Lewis (D-GA).

The Equality Act would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and gender nonconforming people based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity from discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit, public accommodations, jury service, and federally funded programs. It also updates the law to add protections from discrimination on the basis of sex where those protections are not already in existing law. It includes protections for those who associate with others who are targets of unlawful discrimination (for example, children of LGBT people).

“My college-age daughter and her friends can only imagine a world where everyone is equal. The time has come,” said Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director. “The Equality Act would provide permanent protections so that every American has a fair chance to earn a living and provide for their families, including LGBT people. Employees should be hired, fired, and promoted based on their performance, not their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Equality Federation believes that working with our member organizations to advance equality under the law at the state level ensures we’re doing everything we can to secure full legal protections for LGBT people as quickly as possible. Progress at the state level sends a strong message to lawmakers in Washington that the country wants bipartisan movement on a federal bill.

“Make no mistake,” Isaacs added, “It remains critical that the 31 states which lack statewide legislative protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity update their laws so that LGBT people and their families are treated fairly and have the same opportunities as other Americans.”

State nondiscrimination laws offer LGBT people avenues for protection, such as mediation services through a state human rights agency, in addition to federal law.
Recent polls show that nearly 70 percent of Americans – including 65 percent of Republicans – support protecting LGBT people under nondiscrimination laws. Further, 59 percent of likely 2016 voters are less likely to support a candidate who opposes nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

Decisive action at the state level, when paired with the growing support among Americans from all walks of life, makes bipartisan success at the federal level all the more achievable.
Equality Federation is responding to today’s news from its Summer Meeting held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Over 190 state-based equality leaders are convened here to share lessons learned and chart what’s next for the LGBT movement. Collectively, the state-based equality groups have fended off over 85 anti-LGBT bills so far this year, making it clear there is more work to be done to ensure all Americans are protected from discrimination.

Beyond nondiscrimination legislation, participants of Summer Meeting are engaging in passionate discussions about ending the violence against transgender people, dismantling racism, and addressing poverty in our communities.

Equality Federation is the movement builder and strategic partner to state-based organizations advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. We're winning equality in the communities we call home. http://equalityfederation.org

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