Two Years After Obergefell, it’s Time for the Equality Act

by Stephen Peters

Two years after landmark Supreme Court ruling brought nationwide marriage equality, nearly 1.1 million LGBTQ Americans are in same-sex marriages, but 50 percent of LGBTQ Americans live in states that still lack fully inclusive non-discrimination protections

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, on the two-year anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) calls on Congress and the Trump Administration to finally enact the Equality Act and establish full federal equality for millions of LGBTQ people. Today also marks the anniversaries of three other important cases that helped pave the way forward for nationwide marriage equality, Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, Hollingsworth v. Perry in 2013, and United States v. Windsor in 2013.

Despite the vital importance of marriage equality to the LGBTQ community, today is a stark reminder of the work remaining before true lived and legal equality can be achieved nationwide. In the majority of states in the U.S., a same-sex couple married at 10 a.m. is at risk of being fired from their jobs by noon and evicted from their home by 2 p.m., simply for posting their wedding photos on Facebook. Currently, 50 percent of LGBTQ Americans live in states where they are at risk of being fired, denied housing, or refused service because of who they are. There is no federal law explicitly protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, education, public accommodations, and other important areas, and 31 states still lack fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

"Today, we celebrate the plaintiffs, attorneys, and advocates who helped push our nation closer to the promise of a more perfect union," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "But it’s equally important to remind ourselves that the fight is far from over.  Many of the very same couples who fought so hard for the right to marry are still at risk of being fired, evicted, or denied service just because of who they are. That’s why we need the federal Equality Act to fix the patchwork of laws that leave LGBTQ people at risk. Our civil rights should not change at every state border.”

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.

*If you are interested in speaking to a couple or individual affected by the marriage equality decision, including those in specific states, email*

The Human Rights Campaign worked with Rep. David Cicilline and Sen. Jeff Merkley to introduce the Equality Act on July 23, 2015, less than one month after the Obergefell ruling. The legislation is simple: it would add LGBTQ people to our nation’s civil rights laws to ensure no one could lose their job, their home, or be denied services because of who they are or whom they love. With bipartisan support, 242 members of Congress and more than 90 corporations now back the legislation.

Meanwhile, the need for the Equality Act has never been more clear. In 2016, more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced at the state level. So far in 2017, more than 130 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in 30 states from coast to coast. These bills targeting the LGBTQ community are possible because there are still no comprehensive federal civil rights protections for LGBTQ people. Until this changes, millions of LGBTQ people will remain at risk.

HRC today celebrates the historic and crucial victory of marriage equality for the LGBTQ community, but also recommits to the grassroots organizing and campaigning still before us in order to achieve fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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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