Historic LGBTQ Victory: U.S. House Passes Equality Act



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Washington, D.C., May 17) – The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund celebrates today’s major victory as the U.S. House passes the Equality Act.  

Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund made this statement:

Today is a quantum leap forward in the direction of becoming a nation with civil rights laws that include all of us, all the time.

We all deserve to live free in our society, to be who we are, and be able to express ourselves without fear of discrimination. The passage of the Equality Act in the House is an important step in the full realization of freedom for all.

The Trump-Pence administration has been reckless, cruel, biased, and irresponsible in its treatment of religious minorities, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ people. As they try their level best to destroy much of the progress we have made over the last 10 years, we are determined that their actions do not go unchecked and unchallenged.

In fact, support for LGBTQ issues continues to grow across religions, party affiliations, and demographic lines. Nearly seven in 10 (69%) Americans favor laws that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. Today’s vote is more evidence of these shifts in the hearts and minds of policymakers and their constituents.

We thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi for keeping her commitment to prioritize the Equality Act and for leading its passage in the House.  We recognize Representatives David Cicilline and Brian Fitzpatrick for sponsoring the Equality Act and the members who voted in favor of this bipartisan legislation. But today would not have been possible without the support and involvement of the civil rights groups within our coalition many of whom were instrumental to the enactment of the original civil rights laws that are the foundation that anchors the Equality Act.

Now that it’s been successfully passed in the House, we will turn our attention to building grassroots support and momentum to advance the Senate version of the Equality Act that is led by Senators Jeff Merkley, Susan Collins, Tammy Baldwin, and Cory Booker.

The Equality Act will establish explicit protections for LGBTQ people and women, ensuring that no part of one’s identity can be used to discriminate against them in housing, credit, education, employment, publicly-funded programs like child welfare agencies, expanded public accommodations, and jury service.

The National LGBTQ Task Force and the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund launched All of Me, All the Time, a public education campaign to highlight the intersections of LGBTQ issues, faith, civic engagement, and racial and economic equity. The National LGBTQ Task Force was also instrumental in shaping the public narrative on faith, sexuality, and discrimination and in partnership with others. The National LGBTQ Task Force led a prayer vigil on the Hill earlier this week and delivered a letter of support for the Equality Act with over 5,000 signatures from faith leaders and people of faith.

The National LGBTQ Task Force was the organization responsible for helping to shape the first Equality Act which was introduced 45 years ago in 1974 by US Rep. Bella Abzug.

More from the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund staff.

Victoria F. Kim, Field Organizer

As a femme identifying woman of color, my womanness and my Asianness are protected under the Fair Housing Act from discrimination based on race and sex during the housing rental process, but because I’m queer, I am not currently protected under federal law. And discrimination against part of me is discrimination against all of me.

Victoria M. Rodríguez-Roldán, J.D., Senior Policy Counsel, Trans/Gender Nonconforming Justice Director, Disability Justice Project Director

How many people have ever debated whether to kiss their partner while out on a date or dressed to conform to gender norms in order to prevent from being discriminated against or harmed? As a Latinx, Transgender woman, I think about these things daily and unfortunately current federal civil and human rights laws do not fully cover all of who I am, all of the time. The Civil Rights Act only explicitly protects straight, cisgender Latinx people. As a result, I and many others have incomplete protections.

Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, M.Div., Faith Work Director:

I believe that God delights in empowering us to be whole and free. Yet wholeness and freedom do not come easy.  

Many of those in our communities, at our workplaces, and in our families are indeed empowered to live out loud. Many of us refuse to hide our light, and we choose to live in truth about our gender identity and sexual orientation. Many of us live on purpose and in pride, even when we are called ‘minority’ and ‘abomination’ and ‘dangerous.’ Yet the more we are empowered, the more we are visible. And the more we are visible, the more we are unsafe.  

We are unsafe because our current laws do not fully protect us from discrimination and the harm it causes.   

So the LGBTQ person who might finally be able to experience the joy of relaxing into the possibility of truth and connection and love in public must also experience the possibility of rejection and denial in public – when, despite the fact that they are saying yes to themselves, perhaps because they have said yes to themselves, the business owner says no, the housing office says no, the hotel says no, the employer says no.

Our work is to make sure that the Equality Act is supported and passed, so that all people, wherever they are, whenever they are wherever they are, have the protection of the law. Our work is to make sure the law makes it possible for me – a Black, queer, Christian woman – to be all of who I am, all the time.

Victoria Kirby York, MPA, Deputy Director of the Advocacy and Action Department

It is time that the Civil Rights Act and many other civil and human rights laws on our books be amended to include all of us. The Equality Act does this and more. The Equality Act adds sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity to existing civil and human rights laws while expanding the definition of public accommodations to include retail, federally-funded programs, and more. This is important as it will create opportunities for our community to advocate for ourselves when we are followed in stores, kicked off publicly-funded trains for laughing, or discriminated against in the criminal justice system. As a mother of a young Black girl and an aunt of three Black boys, I want them to know I fought hard to make sure they grew up in a society where they can be their full selves and know that all of who they are will be protected by law in case they are discriminated against and that no one will be exempt from following the law when they choose to seek justice for the harm done against them. The Equality Act is a great step forward for all of us.

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The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund builds grassroots power, and mobilizes for changes in policies and culture to achieve freedom and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. As a progressive gender, racial, economic and social justice organization, the Task Force Action Fund works toward a society that values and respects the diversity of human expression and identity.

Contact:
Sarah Massey, Communications Director
202 639-6308, smassey@thetaskforce.org