Many Americans are shocked to learn that despite significant progress, 29 states do not currently have explicit protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) Americans from discrimination. This patchwork of laws across the country leaves them vulnerable to being refused service at a restaurant, declined pick up by a car service like Uber, denied by a lawyer or bank, or kicked out of a government funded homeless shelter simply because of who they are. And the need for these protections is clear — nearly 2/3 of LGBTQ+ Americans report having experienced discrimination in their personal lives.
Our nation provides civil rights protections to people on the basis of race, color, national origin, and (in most cases) sex, disability, and religion. But they do not explicitly provide non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Everyone should have a fair chance to provide a home for their families and access essential services without fear of harassment or discrimination.
What's the Solution?
It's time for our leaders to update existing civil rights protections to provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.
Decades of history show that federal civil rights protections are effective in decreasing discrimination because they provide strong remedies targeted to specific vulnerable groups. By explicitly including sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBTQ+ people will finally be afforded the exact same protections as other covered characteristics at the federal level.
Who Supports This Effort?
The nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that nationally, support for these type of LGBTQ+ protections topped 70%, which includes a majority of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. They have also been endorsed by more than 600 organizations, including civil rights, education, health care, and faith-based organizations as well as a group of more than 320 major companies with operations in all 50 states, headquarters spanning 33 states, and a collective revenue of $5.7 trillion. In total, these companies employ more than 12.3 million people across the United States. More than 60 business associations including the Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce have also declared their support.
Is This Just for LGBTQ+ People?
No! Shockingly, there are no federal protections for people of color, women, immigrants and people of minority faiths from being denied service and otherwise discriminated against in retail stores, shopping malls and similar places. And women are also not protected from discrimination in government services and federally funded programs. Depending on how existing civil rights protections are updated, they could both extend those vital protections and ensure that LGBTQ+ people are protected from discrimination in these and other areas.