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2019-MAR: The Federal LGBT Equality Act

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"LGBT" is an acronym for gender identity and sexual orientation minorities: lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender persons.

Back in early 2015, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) promoted a federal comprehensive nondiscrimination bill to protect LGBT individuals across the U.S. It did not progress.

The bill was reintroduced on Wednesday, 2019-MAR-13.

Laura Durso, the Vice President for LGBT Research at the Center for American Progress, wrote:

"The Equality Act would ensure meaningful and explicit protections in multiple areas of life on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. It states clearly that LGBTQ people cannot be fired from a job, denied an apartment or a home loan, or be turned away from a restaurant just because of who they are. And it modernizes our civil rights laws to ensure that women, people of color, religious minorities, and other groups see their protections enhanced and expanded." 1

Masen Davis, the Chief Executive Officer of Freedom for All Americans sent an email to their mailing list on MAR-13, saying:

"The Equality Act would update federal law to include express and enduring nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity across virtually every area of daily life.

This legislation is exactly the kind of federal protection LGBTQ Americans urgently need and that Freedom for All Americans will continue to advocate for.

You know as well as I do that no one should be at risk of being fired, denied housing, or refused service at a business simply because of who they are, who they love, or what zip code they call home.

Congress should act now to ensure that LGBTQ Americans can go about their lives with dignity and respect.

Millions of LGBTQ people are vulnerable because over 30 states lack express and enduring protections." 2

Needless to say, Congress does not have the power to pass the bill into law. That is up to both Congress and President Trump. Although he campaigned for the Presidency partly on the basis of support for the LGBT community, he has been demonstration a lack of tolerance for sexual orientation and gender identity minorities since taking office.

According to Ian Thompson, Legislative Representative at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Equality Act has the support of 300 members of Congress. He said:

"From discrimination and harassment of LGBTQ youth in our nation’s schools to older same-sex couples who are denied housing in retirement communities because of their sexual orientation, this is something that LGBTQ people confront throughout our lives and in every corner of the country. ... [The bill] would provide LGBTQ people with consistent, explicit, and nationwide nondiscrimination protections across all of the key areas of daily life, including employment, housing, and access to public spaces and services. It would do this by explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in our nation’s federal civil rights laws — giving LGBTQ people the same protections that exist for other characteristics under federal law, such as race, religion, and national origin. ... And with the Trump administration and anti-LGBTQ activists doing everything they can to turn religious liberty into a license to discriminate, it’s important that the Equality Act also clarifies that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — which has been misused to license discrimination under the guise of “religious liberty” — can’t undercut civil rights protections for anyone." 3

The bill was introduced by Reps David Cicilline (D-RI) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) in the House, and Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate. The bill has an unusually high level of support, including:

  • 280 members of Congress,

  • 165 major business from Abercrombie & Fitch to Xillow Group, and

  • 288 state and national organizations. 4

President Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said:

"The harsh reality is that LGBTQ Americans still face real and persistent discrimination in their everyday lives. The new pro-equality majority in Congress has the chance to finally ensure LGBTQ people’s rights are not determined by what side of a city or state line they live on. ... now is the time to pass the bipartisan Equality Act." 4

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Results of a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI):

In their 2018 American Values Atlas, PRRI asked a random selection of 40,292 U.S. adults the question:

"All in all, do you strongly favor, favor, oppose, or strongly oppose laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodation and housing?"

Results by various groups: age, political parties and faith groups:

Group Favor Oppose
All U.S. adults
By Age 18-29
65 and over
By political party
By Faith Group
White Evangelical Protestant
White Mainline Protestant
Roman Catholic
Jehovah's Witnesses
New Age

The five states most heavily in favor:

  • New Hampshire 81%
  • Utah 77%
  • Vermont 77%
  • Connecticut 76%
  • Washington 75%

The five states heavily opposed:

  • Wyoming 37%
  • Mississippi 36%
  • Kentucky 35%
  • South Carolina 34%
  • Alabama 34%

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Laura Durso, "Passing the Equality Act," Center for American Progress, 2019-MAR-13, at:
  2. Masen Davis, "Bipartisan support for federal LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections," Freedom for All Americans, 2019-MAR-13, via email from [email protected]
  3. Ian Thompson, Legislative Representative, "It’s High Time Congress Pass the Equality Act," American Civil Liberties Union, 2019-MAR-13, at:
  4. Stephen Peters, "The Historic, Bipartisan Equality Act to be Reintroduced in Congress With Unprecedented Support. Human Rights Campaign, 2019-MAR-13, at:

How you may have landed up here:

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Copyright 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
B.A. Robinson
Originally posted on: 2019-MAR-13
Latest update: 3019-MAR-27
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