The fight for gay equality isn’t over
It’s been just over a year since the Supreme Court made the freedom to marry the law of the land. But despite the fact that gay and lesbian people can now marry in all 50 states, the fight for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans is far from over.
The LGBT community continues to face unacceptable hurdles: anti-gay and anti-transgender Republican legislators consistently and ruthlessly attempt to legislate-away people’s rights at a state level; there aren't the same civil rights protections for LGBT people at a federal level as there are for other Americans; and they are regularly subject to physical and emotional violence and discrimination in public and private spaces all across the country.
The shooting last month at Pulse nightclub in Orlando is a tragic reminder of the hatred and violence that Americans who are gay or transgender risk being confronted with every day. LGBT (especially transgender) people report harassment at work and in public and private spaces, and significantly higher rates of unemployment and homelessness than the national average.1 Marriage equality is not enough, LGBT people need full civil rights.
Tell Congress: It’s time for LGBT people to have full civil rights. Pass the Equality Act now.
The comprehensive Equality Act is an update to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Progressive champions Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced the legislation in 2015 to protect LGBT people from discrimination in education, employment, housing, credit, and federal jury service, providing them with basic civil rights protections.2
A majority of Americans support equal protection under the law for LGBT Americans, but that has not stopped the attacks from conservative extremists across the country. In the majority of states in the country, people can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their apartments, or denied services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and presentation.3 There are currently over 100 active pieces of anti-LGBT legislation moving in state legislatures across the country.4 From “bathroom bills,” that explicitly target transgender people by making it illegal for them to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity; to Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs), that make it legal for people to use religion as way to validate their discrimination against gay or transgender people; the attacks are varied in their approach but stem from the same bigotry and intolerance.5
Right-wing legislators are not only refusing to create a climate of safety and inclusion, they are proactively attempting to dismantle the rights of LGBT people. When our elected officials stigmatize and target LGBT people, it contributes to a larger social context of intolerance.6 More than half of LGBT people in the United States expect to be a victim of a hate crime.7 This is a moment to build momentum for the passage of the Equality Act, and show all politicians that standing in the way of equality and freedom is standing on the wrong side of history. It’s time to show who we really are as a nation.
Tell Congress: Pass the Equality Act and extend all civil rights protections to all Americans.
Thank you for standing up for equality.
1. “National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Nov. 2009.
2. Zach Ford, “The Equality Act Could End Legal LGBT Discrimination For Good,” Think Progress, July 23, 2015.
3. “Anti-LGBT Discrimination,” GLAD, accessed June 23, 2016.
4. Jennifer Bendery and Michelangelo Signorile, “Everything You Need To Know About The Wave Of 100+ Anti-LGBT Bills Pending In States,” Huffington Post, Apr. 15, 2016.
5. “Anti-LGBT Religious Exemption Legislation across the country,” ACLU, accessed June 23, 2016.
6. Emma Green, “The Extraordinarily Common Violence Against LGBT People in America,” The Atlantic, June 12, 2016.
7. Michelle A. Marzullo and Alyn J. Libman, “Hate Crimes and Violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People,” Human Rights Campaign Foundation, May 2009.