As Senate reconvenes, over 160 LGBTQ leaders release letter illustrating public support for nondiscrimination protections
September 14, 2021 — Today, a broad coalition of 160+ leaders of LGBTQ state and local organizations representing millions of LGBTQ Americans are renewing their call on the U.S. Senate to pass the Equality Act and illustrate the deep support for the legislation across lines of geography, ideology, identity, and party. The historic legislation cleared the U.S. House of Representatives for the second time with bipartisan support earlier this year, and President Joe Biden has vowed to sign it into law. The 168 state and local leaders who signed the letter, convened by Equality Federation and Freedom For All Americans, represent all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and dozens of U.S. cities. The Equality Act will be the first piece of federal legislation to explicitly and comprehensively protect LGBTQ people from discrimination on the basis of gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and will expand existing protections for people of color, women, people of faith, and other groups.
“Americans from all walks of life support protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination, and we have both a president and leadership in Congress who have expressed a commitment to getting the Equality Act over the finish line. Now is the time to act,” said Fran Hutchins, the executive director of Equality Federation. “We’re emerging from one of the most anti-LGBTQ, dangerous state and local legislative sessions in recent history — the need for uniform and explicit protections has never been clearer. There isn’t much that members of both parties in Washington agree on these days, but protecting LGBTQ people enjoys bipartisan support. It’s time for the Senate to take action and finish the job.”
A supermajority of Americans, including nearly 70 percent of conservatives, support nondiscrimination protections. Beyond the deep support for nondiscrimination protections locally, the Equality Act has been named a legislative priority for the Biden administration and passed the U.S House of Representatives with bipartisan support earlier this year.
“Oregon proudly protects LGBTQ people from discrimination under the law, but simply crossing state lines means those protections may evaporate,” said Nancy Haque, the executive director of Basic Rights Oregon. “This patchwork of protections is unsustainable and leaves too many people behind. It’s time for members of the Senate to listen to their constituents and pass the Equality Act.”
Though support for LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections is at an all-time high, the problem of discrimination persists due to a lack of express, enduring protections. A 2020 study found that one in three LGBTQ people faced discrimination in the last year, including three in five transgender Americans. Although 21 states and more than 330 cities have passed LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, over 6.7 million LGBTQ people live in states that lack express, comprehensive statewide nondiscrimination protections.
“This is a daily thing for transgender people,” said Cassandra Hefton, a transgender woman in Florida and a U.S. military veteran who has been refused service at the grocery store twice and has faced discrimination in public spaces repeatedly. “We need to speak out. As a community, we have made great strides, but we need to keep doing the work of winning hearts and minds.”
“The Equality Act has broad and deep support among Americans across lines of political party, demographics, and geography,” said Kasey Suffredini, CEO and national campaign director of Freedom for All Americans. “LGBTQ people have sought to pass federal nondiscrimination protections for nearly 50 years. Our community still faces unequal treatment every day; but we now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pass historic nondiscrimination legislation with the support of Congress and the White House. America is ready to treat LGBTQ people with dignity and respect under the law.”
To learn more about the Equality Act, please visit https://www.passtheequalityact.com/.
With more than 40 members, Equality Federation is the movement builder and strategic partner to state-based organizations advocating for LGBTQ people. Together with our partners, we work on cross-cutting issues impacting our community such as racial equity, reproductive justice, and immigration.
Freedom for All Americans
Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.