Reflecting on Big Victories and Advances for LGBTQ Equal Treatment on Give OUT DayBy Shane Stahl • April 19, 2018 • 9:29 am
Today, April 19, is Give Out Day, when supporters of LGBTQ groups nationwide come together to donate to causes that protect, inform, and engage the LGBTQ community at all different levels.
Here at Freedom For All Americans, our goal is to secure comprehensive nondiscrimination protections nationwide — there are still 32 states without sufficient state-level protections for LGBTQ people, leading to people being fired, evicted, or denied service simply for being who they are. Our work continues to make sure that no LGBTQ person is vulnerable to discrimination in any circumstance.
In the past year Freedom for All Americans has been proud to lead on some of the LGBTQ movement’s biggest wins, and we look forward to continued success throughout the rest of the year and beyond. Take a look at some of the work we’ve been involved in at the national and state level in 2017 and 2018:
Anchorage Makes History by Defeating Anti-Transgender Ballot Initiative
Earlier this month, the voters of Anchorage made history by becoming the first city in the United States to uphold the dignity of transgender people at the ballot box. Proposition 1, an anti-transgender ballot initiative, would have removed public accommodations protections in effect since 2015, and restricted restroom access for transgender people. The measure was defeated by just under 53% of the overall vote.
Freedom for All Americans was a leading member of Fair Anchorage, serving on the campaign’s executive committee and advising on overall strategy, messaging, advertising, digital and earned media. Through in-kind donations of a campaign website, digital assets and staff time, Freedom for All Americans was the top contributor to the campaign to defeat Proposition 1.
New Hampshire Moves Closer Than Ever to Full Statewide Protections
Over the course of two years, Freedom for All Americans has been proud to serve as a leading and founding member of Freedom New Hampshire, the campaign to protect transgender people from discrimination across the state. Now, that campaign has moved closer than ever to succeeding, as legislation that would add transgender nondiscrimination protections to existing state civil rights law has few hurdles left to clear for passage. Already this year, the bill (HB 1319) has passed through the House Judiciary Committee to a full House vote, where it was deemed ‘Ought to Pass’ by a vote of 195-129.
The last two steps are a pending vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and then a move to the Senate floor for a full final vote. If the bill is passed, Governor Chris Sununu has indicated he will sign it; Sununu convened a task force charged with investigating instances of discrimination in late December 2017.
Texas Advocates Weather Legislative Session and Special Session, Defeating Dozens of Anti-LGBTQ Bills
In summer 2017 Freedom for All Americans proudly declared victory alongside our partner organizations, including Equality Texas and Keep Texas Open For Business, as a strong coalition dealt with dozens of discriminatory bills, including the shameful SB6, a clone of North Carolina’s HB2 that sought to restrict restroom access for transgender people.
Governor Greg Abbott included anti-business, anti-transgender legislation on his call for a special session earlier this summer, following almost all of the anti-LGBTQ bills failing during regular session – and while Lt. Governor Dan Patrick advanced such a measure through the Senate last month, the proposal never gained any traction in the House. The discriminatory proposal faced unprecedented opposition from the business community, who warned that such a measure could cost the state up to $5.6 billion in lost economic investment over the next decade.
Freedom for All Americans is proud to have partnered with state and national organizations to fend off discrimination in Texas. We worked with our colleagues at Equality Texas, the Texas Association of Business, and the Keep Texas Open for Business coalition to ensure that discriminatory legislation like SB 3 would not advance to the governor’s desk. The business opposition to this legislation was overwhelming, with an unprecedented number of businesses speaking out in recent weeks.
Second Circuit Ruling: Title VII Employment Protections Apply to LGBTQ People
In late February, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals found in a 10-3 en banc decision that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a violation of the Civil RIghts Act of 1964, specifically Title VII concerning sex discrimination.
In June 2017 FFAAEF recruited 50 businesses representing more than 370,000 employees to file a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the plaintiff. It marked the first time that businesses explicitly took the legal position that discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation violates Title VII; the list of signers included Google, Microsoft, Viacom, Spotify, CBS, Ben & Jerry’s, Levi Strauss & Co., and more.
FFAAEF was also involved in sharing the stories of the plaintiff’s loved ones, including his former partner Bill Moore and his sister Melissa Zarda, co-executors of his statement. The victory is a testament to their tenacity in this case, as well as the leadership of attorney Greg Antollino, and FFAAEF was proud to play a small role in getting the word out.
Momentum Continues to Protect Transgender People in Massachusetts
Since October 2016, Massachusetts has had a law protecting transgender people from discrimination in places of public accommodation on the books. However, in 2017, an opposition group certified a low threshold of signatures to force a repeal effort to the 2018 ballot.
Since that time, Freedom Massachusetts, the campaign to defend these protections, has been mobilizing volunteers and building coalitions to amplify the voices of support for transgender people. The coalition enjoys support from more than 250 businesses, 350 clergy and congregations, 11 labor unions representing more than 750,000 families, 16 statewide women’s and victim’s advocacy groups, every major professional sports team in New England, the state’s leading law enforcement associations, the entire MA congressional delegation, the state attorney general, bipartisan leadership in the House and Senate, the Senate President and the House Speaker, and more.
Freedom for All Americans is a founding and leading member of Freedom Massachusetts and currently contributes to the coalition in the form of communications outreach, digital strategy, lobbying, field support, and staffing key campaign leadership roles. In addition, FFAA Vice President Kasey Suffredini serves as the campaign co-chair.
Powerful Coalition in Georgia Unites to Defeat Discriminatory Legislation for the 5th Year in a Row
For the fifth year in a row, thousands of individual Georgians have defeated legislative attempts to enshrine anti-LGBTQ discrimination into Georgia law. Cheers to our partners at Georgia Unites Against Discrimination, a campaign Freedom for All Americans is proud to be a leading member of, on the win.
In 2018 alone Georgia Unites Against Discrimination defeated an anti-LGBTQ amendment to an important adoption bill, which later became a standalone measure. The bill would have given taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies a “License to Discriminate” against LGBTQ youth and same-sex couples.
The movement builds on our ongoing work with Georgia Equality and coalition partners across the Peach State.
To donate to Freedom For All Americans, and help continue our work to pass comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for all LGBTQ people nationwide, click here to donate through the Give OUT Day portal.