ICYMI – Advocates, Wisconsin State & Local Officials Share How Equality Act Will Protect Rights of Women, LGBTQ+ People in Badger State

by Delphine Luneau

Legislation Ensures Federal Anti-Discrimination Protections, Basic Freedoms for LGBTQ+ People, Expands Protections for Women, People of Color & People of All Faiths


MADISON — On Wednesday, 9to5 Wisconsin, Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, and Progress North, along with women who serve in office at the local and state level, joined to talk about why Wisconsin women need the Equality Act.

The Equality Act is legislation that ensures for LGBTQ+ people the same federal anti-discrimination protections and basic freedoms others have enjoyed for decades — and expands protections for women, people of color, and people of all faiths.

A recording of the discussion, and full remarks of all speakers, can be found here. Here are some key highlights from Wednesday’s event:

State Senator LaTonya Johnson

“No one should have to worry about being evicted from their home, kicked out of businesses that are open to the public, or denied health care simply for being themselves. That is why I am proud to stand with activists and advocates from across our state and nation to push for the federal Equality Act – we all deserve equal treatment and protection under the law.”

Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer

“Congress must move forward with the Equality Act. Across the country, there is a patchwork of protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, with many states, including Wisconsin, lacking comprehensive and permanent non-discrimination laws. We need to make sure that everyone, in every state, is protected from discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare, and so much more. This is vital, necessary legislation that should be at the top of Congress’ priorities.”

State Representative Francesca Hong

“The Equality Act means economic opportunity for workers and employers. When we value women and their work, businesses make healthier and smarter investments. It is imperative we value our workers equally if we are to sustain our local economies.”

State Representative Kristina Shelton

“Wisconsin is on the front lines of reactionary, right-wing attacks to dismantle the most basic rights of all who live in our state, but especially those from our most marginalized communities. Affirming our rights, centering our shared values, and advancing policy to protect the most fundamental promise – the right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ – must be at the center of all we do. Passage of the Equality Act would be transformative as it would codify explicit protections for LGBTQ+ people, therefore prohibiting discrimination in employment, education, housing, public accommodations and federally funded programs. At its core, the Equality Act will be life-saving and would ensure the advancement of the ‘American promise’ to all.”

Zoe Roberts, Eau Claire County Board

“Equality to me is the simple truth that although we are each unique individuals, we all have the same right to live our lives and thrive as much as we can dream. This intersects with each of us in our daily lives, be it our work life or personal life. We need to respect our differences in order to grow as human beings and create a place where all humanity is valued.”


Now awaiting action in the U.S. Senate, The Equality Act has been endorsed by more than 630 organizations, including civil rights, education, health care, and faith-based organizations. It is backed by more than 500 companies employing more than 15.3 million people across 33 U.S. states with a combined annual revenue of $7.2 trillion.

Nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ+ people have reported experiencing discrimination in their personal lives. The Equality Act would provide consistent and explicit federal non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life — including housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service. Millions of LGBTQ+ people in the United States remain vulnerable to being evicted from their homes, kicked out of a business that’s open to the public, surcharged unnecessarily for goods and services, or denied health care, home loans, taxis/car-sharing, and government services in a majority of states simply because of who they love or who they are.

The Equality Act also extends protections to millions of women — who aren’t covered by some existing federal anti-discrimination laws — to ensure they don’t have to live in fear of harassment or discrimination. In addition, it modernizes public accommodations law to provide increased protections to people of color and people of faith.

It would ensure that women cannot be charged more than men by a dry cleaner for cleaning a shirt, or that breastfeeding women are not harassed or excluded from public spaces, or that women aren’t turned away from a pharmacy that refuses to fill a birth control prescription.

In February, HRC launched the Reality Flag campaign: An ambitious, nationwide public awareness campaign to highlight the many basic freedoms missing for LGBTQ+ people in states across the country, and to galvanize public support for the Equality Act — historic federal legislation that would ensure comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people everywhere.

The campaign also launched a series of powerful video ads created by Emmy Award-winning creator of Amazon’s Transparent Joey Soloway — showcasing the real stories and lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people impacted by discrimination. See the videos here.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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