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HRC Endorses Comprehensive New Legislation That Ensures Full Federal Equality for LGBT Americans

July 23, 2015

New polling shows overwhelming bipartisan support among American public for LGBT non-discrimination protections

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, endorsed the Equality Act, a landmark federal non-discrimination bill that would ensure all LGBT Americans have the protections from discrimination in federal law they deserve.  Its strong endorsement accompanies several other statements of support for federal LGBT non-discrimination protections, including a civil rights icon, major leaders in Corporate America, prominent Republican and Democratic members of the legal community, as well as new polling demonstrating overwhelming bipartisan support among the American public.

Introduced one month after the historic Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that ushered in nationwide marriage equality, the Equality Act would guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBT people in many of the most important aspects of their lives.  HRC President Chad Griffin joined individuals who have been victims of discrimination and several prominent members of Congress at a press conference today on Capitol Hill to introduce the legislation.

"The time has come for full federal equality -- nothing more, nothing less," said HRC President Chad Griffin.  "While America is now a marriage equality nation, the tragic reality is that millions of LGBT Americans face persistent discrimination in their lives each and every day. In most states in this country, a couple who gets married at 10 AM is at risk of being fired from their jobs by noon and evicted from their home by 2 PM, simply for posting their wedding photos online. Congress must pass the Equality Act to ensure that LGBT people and their families are just as safe at work or at school as they are in their marriages. This bill will guarantee all LGBT Americans have the clear, permanent, and explicit protections from discrimination that they deserve.”

The Equality Act, which was introduced by Senators Jeff Merkley, Tammy Baldwin, Cory Booker, and  Representative David Cicilline, has more than 140 cosponsors in the House, including Representative John Lewis, and at least 39 in the Senate. The legislation establishes explicit, permanent protections against discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity in matters of employment, housing, access to public places, federal funding, credit, education and jury service. In addition, it would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in federal funding and access to public places.

Earlier this week, HRC released new polling that shows support for federal non-discrimination protections exceeds even marriage equality.  Likely voters support workplace non-discrimination protections by a massive 78 percent to 16 percent margin. This includes support from 90 percent of likely Democratic voters, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of likely Republican voters, and 70 percent of observant Christians.  Moreover, nearly 60 percent of voters are less likely to support a candidate who doesn’t support such protections for LGBT people, including 61 percent of Independent voters and 58 percent of Catholic voters.

“We thank Senator Merkley, Senator Baldwin, Senator Booker and Representative Cicilline for their leadership on this bill and for their tremendous commitment to LGBT equality,” said Griffin. “Everyone should have a fair chance to earn a living, provide for their families, and live their lives without fear of discrimination.  This polling makes crystal clear that the American people agree, and that many are willing to vote opponents of equality out of office because fairness and equality for all is so important,” said Griffin.

Earlier today, Apple Inc.,The Dow Chemical Company, and Levi Strauss & Co., announced their support of comprehensive federal non-discrimination legislation that would establish full, federal equality for all LGBT Americans. Each of those statements are available here.

Julian Bond, chairman emeritus of the NAACP and president emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center, announced his support for a bill like the Equality Act earlier this month, writing in a column, “It’s time to add concrete protections for LGBT people to existing civil rights law, ensuring that sexual orientation and gender identity enjoy similar treatment as religion, national origin, and race; and guaranteeing nondiscrimination protections in employment, housing, public spaces and services, education, federal funding, and other areas.”

The acclaimed bipartisan legal team David Boies and Ted Olson, who was a Solicitor General of the United States under former President George W. Bush, announced their own support for comprehensive, federal LGBT non-discrimination legislation. “The introduction of the Equality Act marks a historic moment for our country.   The patchwork of protections in this country has provided a crazy quilt of laws, threatening the livelihood of many of the same couples who fought so long and so hard to have their marriages recognized. That’s why we support the idea of a comprehensive approach to non-discrimination protections that would embrace LGBT people as other groups who are protected by our civil rights laws. We urge Republicans and Democrats to once again come together to support this important legislation that provides the same protections to LGBT people as other Americans.”

HRC polling in March showed that nearly two-thirds of LGBT Americans have experienced discrimination in their personal lives, and that nearly half have experienced discrimination in the workplace. That same polling also showed strong, bipartisan support for a federal non-discrimination bill.

Today, HRC launched a robust #31Reasons social media campaign, which will elevate stories of discrimination from across the country, and will highlight the fact that 31 states lack explicit, fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  HRC also unveiled a new landing page for the legislation, HRC.org/EqualityForward, to help inform its more than 1.5 million members and supporters about what the bill does and why it should become law.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling in June, HRC and the named plaintiff in last month’s Supreme Court case, Jim Obergefell, traveled across the country to highlight the need for a federal non-discrimination bill. This included stops inIndianapolis, St Louis, Phoenix and Charlotte – all cities in states that lack explicit and fully-inclusive LGBT non-discrimination laws. The tour also stopped in San Francisco, and following the Supreme Court ruling late last month, it concluded with stops in Austin and Dallas.

Last year, HRC released the report Beyond Marriage Equality, that highlighted how, historically, expansive legislation to address inequities is not unusual. The report details the history of such legislation, and highlights seven core areas where LGBT Americans lack consistent, permanent federal non-discrimination protections.

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