The Equality Act Introduced Today in Congress, Would Allow LGBT Americans To Live Free From Fear
Jami and Krista Contreras of Michigan found out the hard way about the lack of comprehensive legal protections for LGBT Americans. Jami and Krista were married in Vermont in 2012, and two years later their daughter Bay was born. When it came time for their baby girl’s first checkup, her doctor refused to provide her care simply because her parents are gay.
The unfortunate reality is that the Contreras’ story could have happened in the majority of states across America. Despite the progress that has been made in ensuring marriage equality, there are still over 30 states that lack clear and comprehensive legal protections for LGBT people. In these states, LGBT Americans are at risk of being fired from their jobs, refused service from a business, or evicted from their apartment simply because of who they are. As the Contreras family learned, even the children of LGBT couples are not safe from discrimination without explicit federal law prohibiting it.
Thankfully, many members of congress recognize this reality and are working to change it. The Equality Act, introduced today, is a historic bill that would ensure comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBT people regardless of where they live. Under The Equality Act “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” would be added to protections for employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and juries. The bill would also expand and enhance existing protections for people of color, women, and Americans of all faiths. For more details about all the protections included in the bill read this.
The Equality Act was introduced by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-OR) and Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. David Ciclline (D-RI), along with a long list of co-sponsors including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Lewis. Its support among congressional democrats and LGBT advocates is huge.
Not surprisingly, support for the bill is not as high among conservatives in Congress, many of whom oppose any non-discrimination legislation and are actively working against it. In fact, just last week, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) introduced the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, which the ACLU has described as Indiana’s religious freedom bill on steroids.
BOTTOM LINE: The last decade has seen huge progress in the recognition and attainment of LGBT rights. But in 31 states, LGBT Americans are at risk of being fired from their jobs, refused service from a business, and much more, just because of who they are. LGBT Americans deserve to live free from fear. The Equality Act will ensure that they can.
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