Breaking: President Biden Endorses Equality Act in First Joint Address to Congress

April 28, 2021 • 10:06 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today in a historic first during a presidential address to Congress, President Biden spoke about the urgency of passing the Equality Act this year – landmark legislation that would update federal civil rights law to ensure explicit and comprehensive protections for LGBTQ people from discrimination in virtually every area of life.

President Biden stated he hopes Congress can get the Equality Act to his desk “to protect LGBTQ Americans.” Stella Keating, a transgender teenager who spoke as one of three witnesses at the historic hearing for the Equality Act in the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, was in attendance as one of the First Lady’s special guests.

Kasey Suffredini, CEO and national campaign director of Freedom for All Americans, the bipartisan campaign to secure LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections nationwide, issued the following statement in response to the news:

“President Biden’s endorsement of the Equality Act in his first presidential address is a historic milestone and the latest indicator of the momentum LGBTQ advocates and allies have built to pass this landmark legislation over the past 50 years. President Biden has long been a passionate supporter of LGBTQ rights, even when other elected officials avoided taking a stance. The truth is millions of LGBTQ Americans and their loved ones are still vulnerable to discrimination in most of the U.S. because of an unsustainable patchwork of varying protections in different states. We urge members of Congress to follow the President’s leadership, listen to the hopes and dreams of the LGBTQ community, and vote with their hearts to pass the Equality Act as soon as possible. Treating all people fairly is not a Democratic or a Republican value – it’s an American value, and it will move our country closer to our ideals of liberty and justice for all.”

The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives in a bipartisan victory earlier this year and the Senate Judiciary Committee held a historic hearing on the Equality Act last month. Public support is at an all-time high and polls show that a growing bipartisan supermajority of Americans support protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination: in a 2020 PRRI survey, more than eight in ten Americans (83%), including majorities of Independents (85%) and Republicans (68%), expressed support for these protections.

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’s protections will help curb discrimination that real people face in their lives. The bill is about people like Jody Davis in Ohio, a Christian and veteran who was denied housing and refused service at a store because she is a transgender woman. It would affect Chris Chun in Texas, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Army and father to a transgender girl whose safety he worries about every day. The Equality Act would deter incidents that happen to people like Randal Coffman in Florida, who was evicted by his landlord for being gay. For people like Bailey and Samantha Brazzel, who simply wanted to file their taxes but were turned away by a tax preparer in Indiana because they are a same-sex couple, the Equality Act makes clear that turning them away because of who they are is impermissible. And for same-sex couples like Krista and Jami Contreras in Michigan, who had to find a new healthcare provider for their six-day-old newborn after the doctor they’d chosen turned them away for being lesbians, the Equality Act could be lifesaving. The scope of discrimination that LGTBQ Americans face is not fully quantifiable but it is well-documented.

Just last week, Freedom for All Americans joined the Freedom and Opportunity for All coalition in a Week of Action dedicated to urging U.S. Senators to pass the Equality Act. As part of the effort, the coalition held a Lobby Day in which members recruited nearly 500 constituents who participated in 75 different meetings with lawmakers in 38 states.

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.

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