On Oct 8, activists, allies, and leaders gathered outside the Supreme Court to show support for the plaintiffs inside who were standing for the rights of all LGBTQ people who want to earn a living and provide for their family. I had the honor of representing Equality Federation and addressing the crowd on the historic occasion. Here’s the message I delivered:
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We are here today because we know that there is no right to discriminate and we demand that the Court recognize that truth.
My name is Ian Palmquist, I use he/him/his pronouns, and I am Senior Director of Programs at Equality Federation. I get to work with incredible leaders at 44 statewide LGBTQ advocacy organizations every day and I can tell you they all know how important it is that this Court and Congress make clear that firing someone simply for being LGBTQ is wrong, is unacceptable, and it is illegal.
Our state equality groups have been working tirelessly for decades to win hearts and minds and win state and local protections against discrimination in employment, housing and public accomodations. Here’s what I can tell you.
We know that discrimination is real because we hear from the folks who experience it week after week.
We know that discrimination disproportionately affects LGBTQ folks who are black, brown, trans, nonbinary, or immigrants.
We know these legal protections make a difference.
We know that these protections are good for business.
We know that the horror stories opponents of equality keep saying will happen if we have these protections aren’t true. Because, guess what? We’ve had these protections in states and cities around this country for years, and we’ve had these protections under federal court decisions for some time now. those scary stories just don’t materialize.
Now here’s what else we know. We need clear, comprehensive protection from discrimination nationwide and we need it now.
A patchwork of state and local laws has brought us a long way, but it just won’t cut it. New Jersey’s laws against housing discrimination may help a trans woman living in Camden get an apartment. But how is she going to pay for that apartment when she loses her job across the river in Pennsylvania just for being trans? Pennsylvania state law won’t protect her, and if the Trump administration and their right-wing cronies have their way in the cases before the court today, neither will federal law.
There is no right to discriminate. The Court must affirm that all LGBTQ people can work hard and support themselves and their families without fear of harassment or discrimination at work. Congress and the states must finish the job with comprehensive protections.
If you couldn’t join us, but want to show support, please consider making a gift Equality Federation today. We can’t do this work without support from people like you. When you show up for us, we can show up for the LGBTQ community.