The bill protects people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity[New York, N.Y.] — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, a critically important piece of federal legislation that would, for the first time, explicitly add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to existing civil rights laws.
This crucially important legislation acknowledges the higher rates of poverty and discrimination that LGBT elders face when seeking housing and care, as well as accessing spaces like senior centers.
“No one’s civil rights should depend on their zip code. All people in all parts of this country deserve to live free from fear of harassment and discrimination,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “In 30 states, LGBT people are still at risk of being fired, refused housing, or denied care and services simply because of who they are. For LGBT elders, the problem is made far worse as a result of a lifetime of social stigma and prejudice. We urge Congress to pass the Equality Act and ensure that millions of LGBT people – including our LGBT elders — no longer have to live in fear.”
The Equality Act would provide consistent and explicit protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces, and services; federally funded programs; and jury service. It would also expand the list of protected places of public accommodations. This list includes retail stores, transportation services like airports, taxis, and bus stations, and service providers. Currently, protected characteristics include race, color, national origin, and religion. Adding sexual orientation and gender identity and broadening the definition of public accommodations would mean that the places and spaces that LGBT elders access, including senior centers, would be free from discrimination by law.
SAGE is the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older people. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older people and their caregivers. SAGE also advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT elders, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT community organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competency training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE also coordinates SAGENet, a growing network of affiliates in the United States. Learn more at sageusa.org.