On February 18, Pacific Pride Foundation joined a coalition of more than 150 state, local and national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) organizations in calling on Congress to swiftly pass the Equality Act.
This law would be a significant step forward for the LGBTQ+ community, and Pacific Pride Foundation is committed to mobilizing our communities to make sure our lawmakers know this bill will change millions of lives for the better.
The Equality Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, is a landmark nondiscrimination and civil rights bill that would update existing federal laws to protect people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Discrimination is still commonplace for LGBTQ Americans. Opponents of LGBTQ equality continue to file discriminatory bills in states across the country in an attempt to undermine existing protections in adoption, marriage and access to basic public services and businesses.
According to a 2020 study, one in three LGBTQ Americans faced discrimination in the previous year, including three in five transgender Americans. The Equality Act would ensure that all LGBTQ Americans can live, work, and access public spaces free from discrimination, no matter what state they call home.
The Equality Act has broad and deep support across lines of political party, demographics, and geography, with 83 percent of Americans saying they favor LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, including 68 percent of Republicans and a majority in every state in the country.
Even in a state like California where we are afforded state-level protections, we know that our residents can be unprotected the moment they step across our borders. It’s time for our lawmakers to listen to their constituents, show leadership, and make passage of the Equality Act a priority. LGBTQ+ people should be able to live, work, and access services like medical care without fear of harassment or discrimination.
Although 21 states and more than 330 cities have passed LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections, half of LGBTQ+ people live in the 29 states that still lack comprehensive statewide laws. PPF’s clients have benefited from California’s leadership in the area of non-discrimination. We know firsthand the benefit of non-discrimination protections, and the harm that the current national patchwork of protections will do to those people who are left behind.
In 2019, the Equality Act was introduced in the House of Representatives. It passed the House on May 17, 2019 with a bipartisan 236-173 vote. It was not heard in the Senate.
Kristen Flickinger is executive director of Pacific Pride Foundation, the largest LGBTQ+ center between Los Angeles and San Francisco, serving all of Santa Barbara County. Pacific Pride partners with 35 other educational and nonprofit agencies to create a thriving LGBTQ+ community. The nonprofit works to prevent the transmission of HIV and HEP-C, and to provide services and programs, including youth programs, elder programs, counseling services, sensitivity trainings, community events, and advocacy on LGBTQ+ issues. For more information, visit pacificpridefoundation.org.