Today, HRC released the following statement on the three year anniversary of the introduction of the Equality Act — critically important federal legislation that would finally add clear, comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people to our nation's civil rights laws. 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.
“Momentum is on our side as a growing majority of Americans, 115 leading businesses and more than 240 bipartisan Members of Congress have announced their support for the Equality Act,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “The harsh reality is that in 30 states, LGBTQ people are still at risk of being fired, denied housing, or turned away from a business simply because of who they are. LGBTQ people shouldn’t have to wait any longer for the vital protections ensured by the Equality Act. That’s why we are working harder than ever to turn out the vote this November and send a pro-equality majority to Congress to finally pass this crucially important legislation and pull the emergency brake on this administration.”
Currently, 50 percent of LGBTQ Americans live in states that lack statewide legal protections, leaving their residents and visitors at risk of being fired, denied housing, or refused service because of who they are or whom they love. The Equality Act would extend existing civil rights protections to LGBTQ people by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally-funded programs and jury service.
In addition to having bipartisan support in Congress, 115 major corporations have joined HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act. While the overwhelming majority of America’s leading businesses have already started addressing workplace fairness for LGBTQ employees, these major employers know how important the need is for a federal standard that treats all employees the same no matter which state they live in. The slate of companies endorsing the Equality Act have combined operations in all 50 states, headquarters spanning 23 states, and collectively generate $2.6 trillion in revenue. In total, these companies employ more than 5.8 million people across the United States.
The Equality Act was first introduced in Congress on July 23, 2015, by Senators Jeff Merkley, Tammy Baldwin, Cory Booker, and Representative David Cicilline, with more than 165 original cosponsors in the House, including Representative John Lewis, and 39 in the Senate. It was reintroduced in Congress with unprecedented support on May 5, 2017. Today, 199 U.S. Representatives and 47 U.S. Senators are co-sponsors of the legislation.