Hundreds of Constituents Meet Lawmakers About Equality Act on Lobby DayApril 22, 2021 • 8:29 am
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 to talk about the urgency of passing the Equality Act as soon as possible. Participants included LGBTQ people who would be directly affected by the legislation, allies, parents of transgender youth, people of faith, business owners, conservatives, and more. Additional components of the week of action include letter-writing parties, social media trainings and activations, and creation of toolkits and resources to better allow Americans to be able to amplify support for the Equality Act.
“We had good conversations with our Senator’s staff about the Equality Act, a bill that explicitly prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation across key areas of life,” said Ames Simmons, a transgender man living in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Throughout our state, and throughout the country, many transgender people continue to face discrimination in their daily lives. I know Sen. Burr believes every North Carolinian has value, and we hope he will do the right thing and support the Equality Act. North Carolina municipalities like Hillsborough, Carrboro and Chapel Hill have taken it upon themselves to pass laws to protect us. But this patchwork of protections is unsustainable. We need protections for transgender people and all Americans in every zip code nationwide.”
The Equality Act would update federal civil rights law to ensure explicit and comprehensive protections for LGBTQ people from discrimination in virtually every area of life. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives in a bipartisan victory and had a historic hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee last month.
“Meeting LGBTQ people one-on-one and having personal conversations about why nondiscrimination protections are so important is the most powerful way to change hearts and minds,” said Brooks Banker, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. “I am grateful to Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Sullivan for their consideration of the Equality Act and for taking time to better understand why the bill is so critical. The LGBTQ community has sought to secure this legislation for nearly 50 years and it’s long past time for it to become law.”
Bipartisan consensus for nationwide LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections is rising quickly. 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.
“Arizona is one of a majority of states in the U.S. that lack LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, which means people like me are vulnerable to being denied services or kicked out of public places just because of who we are,” said Kathy Young. a lesbian living in Phoenix, Arizona. “I was happy for the opportunity to participate in Lobby Day and tell my story in hopes of moving the Equality Act forward in Congress. As a parent, I worry every day that I might face discrimination and that it could hurt my ability to care for my family. Passing the Equality Act would allow me to feel safer and more respected when I am going about my life.”
The urgency and momentum for LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections over recent years is undeniable. 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.
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.