North Carolina Community Organizations Join Faith Leaders in Calling on U.S. Senators to Pass the Equality Act

September 10, 2021 • 11:35 am

40+ North Carolina community organizations send letter to Sens. Burr and Tillis calling for LGBTQ-inclusive federal nondiscrimination protections.

Contact: Nate Fischer • Equality NC • [email protected] 

RALEIGH – More than 40 North Carolina community-based organizations released a letter today calling for U.S. Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis to support the Equality Act, a federal law that would secure nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in all 50 states.  Because of a lack of statewide protections, an estimated 382,000 LGBTQ North Carolinians are vulnerable to discrimination in healthcare, housing, public spaces, and federally funded programs and services.

The community leaders are the latest group of North Carolinians pushing for these protections. More than 150 faith leaders recently signed an open letter also calling on the senators to support federal LGBTQ nondiscrimination legislation. 

“I’m proud to join a chorus of diverse faith leaders across North Carolina united in our fundamental belief that we’re all God’s children,” said the Rt. Rev. Sam Rodman, Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina. “As faith leaders, we see the harm caused to communities when our country lacks the vital protections to ensure that no one is fired from a job, denied housing, or refused service simply because of who they are or who they love. LGBTQ people are our family members, friends and neighbors, and should be treated with dignity and respect.”

“As most North Carolinians, we share the American value of religious freedom and freedom of conscience,” said Reverend Andrew S. Taylor-Troutman of Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church. “At the national level we do not have a consensus about how our members should view same-sex marriage, but our faith calls us to ensure that all God’s children, including LGBTQ people, are secure in their civil rights. The Equality Act would guarantee LGBTQ Americans have the same opportunities as all other Americans to be gainfully employed, secure a home for themselves and their families, receive medical care and participate fully in their communities. For people of faith, supporting the Equality Act is the right thing to do.”

The Equality Act, passed by the House in March and currently under consideration in the Senate, would modernize and improve the nation’s civil rights laws by including explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people, women, and people of color.

“As organizations and advocates dedicated to ending homelessness in North Carolina, we support the Equality Act because we know discrimination exacerbates poverty and homelessness for children, families and young adults. In fact, up to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ,” said Ryan Fehrman, Executive Director for the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness. “The Equality Act would be a major force in addressing homelessness by ensuring LGBTQ people have the opportunity to secure a place to live and call home free from discrimination, harassment or violence.”

North Carolina faced economic and political backlash for the passage of HB2 in 2016, one of the nation’s most stringent anti-LGBTQ laws. Today, more than 67 percent of North Carolina residents support equal federal protections for LGBTQ people.

“We have to address the damage to the health and wellbeing of children and young adults caused by discriminatory legislation,” said Cristina Leos, Co-Founder and CEO of MyHealthEd, Inc. “These types of laws create second-class citizenship status for LGBTQ people and have long-lasting impacts on safety and mental health that we cannot ignore. Today it is estimated an LGBTQ child or young adult attempts suicide every 45 seconds. The Equality Act is critical to improving the mental health and safety of LGBTQ children, youth, and adults by ensuring they can live and work more freely with protection under the law.”

According to a recent study, more than 1 in 3 LGBTQ Americans faced discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity in the past year including 3 in 5 transgender people. More than half of LGBTQ people said they experienced harrassment or discrimination in a public place such as a store, transportation or a restroom. 

“Our doctrine states the council stands with people who are LGBTQ in their struggle to achieve equal human and civil rights under the laws of North Carolina and of the United States,” said Rachel Baker, Communications Director for the North Carolina Council of Churches. “Further, we deplore in the church and in society the exclusion of, discrimination against, and hatred toward LGBTQ persons, or any other persons, for all are created in the image of God and out of the love of God. The Equality Act would finally answer our call to secure justice, equality, fairness and dignity for LGBTQ Americans.”

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