WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the nation’s leading advocates for equality called for the urgent passage of the Equality Act following the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s first-ever hearing on the landmark legislation. The Equality Act is historic federal legislation that would guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ+ people under our nation’s existing civil rights laws. It would also extend protections to millions of women, people of color, and people of all faiths — who aren’t covered under some existing federal anti-discrimination laws.
Shortly before the hearing, the Human Rights Campaign issued a new poll showing 70% of Americans, including 50% of Republicans, support the Equality Act. They join the hundreds of members of Congress and more than 600 organizations — including the nation’s top leaders in business, civil rights, education, health care, and faith organizations — who also support the bill.
Below are statements from the nation’s leading advocates for equality on why they are calling for urgent passage of the Equality Act.
LaLa Zannell, the ACLU’s Trans Justice Campaign manager:
“I have been turned away from jobs and shelters for being a Black trans woman and I know that I am not alone. Senators can and should send a message that discrimination against Black people is wrong, that discrimination against all women is wrong, and that discrimination against trans people is wrong. Senators can make it less likely that someone will have to experience the harassment and discrimination I and so many trans and non-binary people of color have experienced.”
Ria Tabacco Mar, director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project:
“Here’s the truth: trans girls are girls, and protecting all girls from discrimination requires protecting girls who are trans. At the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, we know there are many threats to women and to women’s sports, but we can say with confidence that trans women are not among them. The Equality Act closes critical gaps in our civil rights laws that leave us vulnerable to sexual harassment and discrimination. That’s good for all women.”
ReNika Moore, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Project:
“Shopping while Black and flying while Brown are not a crime. It’s long past time for our civil rights laws to be updated to say that this type of discrimination is unlawful. This is about racial justice, this is about gender justice, this is about trans justice. The Equality Act is about all of us.”
Sharita Gruberg, Vice President of the LGBTQ+ Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress:
“Today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Equality Act was a watershed moment in the fight for equal treatment for LGBTQ+ people, and not even the parade of bad-faith, fraudulent, and transphobic hypotheticals put forth by opponents of equality could diminish the historic nature of the hearing. This bill is overwhelmingly popular with the American people, and provides the most fundamental need for the LGBTQ+ community — equal treatment and protections under the law. The Senate must pass this bill.”
Fran Hutchins, Executive Director of the Equality Federation:
“Today was a historic day for the LGBTQ+ community in this country. We heard from those who represent the overwhelming majority of Americans who are ready for protections for all LGBTQ+ people regardless of where they live. These brave witnesses shared their stories, reflecting the experiences of so many LGBTQ+ people and their loved ones who simply want the freedom and opportunity to live as who they are. We know the current patchwork of protections across all 50 states is unfair and leaves many LGBTQ+ individuals at risk of discrimination. That’s why the Equality Act is much-needed legislation that will ensure a more free and equal America for all of us, and we implore the Senate to pass this legislation quickly.”
Kasey Suffredini, CEO and National Campaign Director of Freedom for All Americans, the bipartisan campaign to secure LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections nationwide:
“Today’s Equality Act hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee is a milestone in our community’s 50-year fight to secure full LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections. The stories of today’s witnesses and their loved ones in support of the Equality Act reflect the experiences of millions of LGBTQ+ people in America today who continue to face and fear discrimination. They are the face of all the hopes, dreams and challenges that are wrapped up inextricably with the fate of this long-sought and broadly-supported legislation. We are confident Senators will hear these stories, open their hearts and join the overwhelming bipartisan supermajority of Americans who have concluded this country is ready to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination nationwide. Passing this legislation is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and the Senate should stand on the right side of history.” Full statement can be found here.
Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO:
“Today we heard from those who represent the overwhelming majority of Americans in supporting protections for all LGBTQ+ people, no matter where they live. We heard from a brave transgender teenager, whose rights to medical care and to play sports with her friends are threatened in dozens of states. We heard from a faith leader, who is also a parent of a nonbinary child, who supports The Equality Act’s protections for LGBTQ+ people, for people of color, and for women.
Unfortunately, we also heard from witnesses whose only expertise is in spreading misinformation about transgender people. Abigail Shrier is not a doctor or an expert on transgender people, gender identity, or medical care, but she exploited the Senate hearing to continue her work to spread inaccurate ideas about trans people. Claims that the Equality Act, and trans people, threaten women and girls in any way, are demonstrably false. Shrier should listen to transgender youth, who simply want to be seen and recognized as they are.”
- GLAAD has been tracking the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and misinformation spread by writers like Abigail Shrier: https://www.glaad.org/gap/abigail-shrier
- GLAAD’s tip sheet for journalists covering the Equality Act is available here: https://www.glaad.org/blog/equality-act-tip-sheet-journalists
Janson Wu, Executive Director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders:
“Today’s powerful hearing added momentum for passing the Equality Act and highlighted the urgency of enacting the critical protections the bill will provide. The members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the public heard poignant stories from transgender high school sophomore Stella Keating about how the Equality Act will mean greater opportunity for her and other young people, and from Edith Guffey, an African American faith leader and mother about how the bill will increase safety and opportunity for her transgender child. The more we hear these stories of individuals from every state and every community who continue to face discrimination without secure legal protections, the clearer it becomes how important it is to pass legislation that the vast majority of Americans (over 70%) support and that will make such an important difference in people’s everyday lives.”
Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, Interim Executive Director of GLSEN:
“Despite anti-transgender politicians’ efforts to characterize the Equality Act and other nondiscrimination laws as part of an attack on cisgender women and girls, the truth is that advancing civil rights for LGBTQ+ people is critical to advancing women’s rights and gender justice. The Equality Act will protect girls and women–especially transgender girls and women, who face disproportionately high rates of sex-based discrimination and sexual assault, which have devastating effects on their ability to stay and succeed in school. Legislation like the Equality Act that will make sure people are treated fairly at work, in school, and in public places help ensure that all women and girls can thrive and reach their full potential.”
“Today, we are working to rebuild our education system during the COVID-19 pandemic and the nation’s reckoning with systemic racism. It is time to end discrimination in our schools. Every education institution that receives federal funding should be required – at minimum — to uphold their civil rights obligations.The Equality Act will ensure that discrimination against LGBTQ+ people is prohibited in school and throughout life.”
Kevin Jennings, CEO of Lambda Legal:
“We are closer than ever to finally making the Equality Act a reality. For 47 years, LGBTQ+ advocates have been asking Congress to pass comprehensive federal legislation that guarantees us the same rights and protections as other Americans. The current patchwork of some rights is not enough as our communities continue to be vulnerable in so many facets of their day-to-day lives simply because of who they are or who they love. The Equality Act would be an important step toward fulfilling this country’s promise of equality for all. And contrary to the misinformation perpetuated by those who oppose the bill and deal in baseless myths and fearmongering, this bill would expand protections for all of us — including women and girls. There has never been an opportunity like the one before us now to take this important legislation all the way. The time to get this done is now.” Full statement can be found here.
Kierra Johnson, National LGBTQ+ Task Force Action Fund Executive Director:
“Today, we witnessed history as the authentic lives of diverse LGBTQ+ people were lifted up, respected, and dignified, and the nation’s need for passage of the Equality Act made clear. The lives of millions of beautiful and diverse LGBTQ+ people in this country, and our families would be improved through the Equality Act, a fact this hearing showed when Rep. Marie Newman (D) said: ‘No American should have to live a lie… you will feel deep depression, anxiety and yes, suicidal.’ This is what is at stake for our community. Our lives. Our children’s lives. Our friends’ and families’ lives.” We appreciated the witnesses who spoke for the Equality Act and shared their compelling and powerful personal stories.” Full statement can be found here.
David J. Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition:
“We continue to debate while certain Americans are targeted for surveillance; while taxis and rideshare drivers refuse service based on appearance; while women—who have no explicit civil rights protections in the constitution—are charged more for car servicing or hotel rooms; while children are told they can no longer participate in activities with their friends, because some adults are overly concerned about their genitalia. While we debate, our citizens experience profound and unnecessary hardship, without recourse. You can change that.”
“…Passing the Equality Act is particularly important for people who are both Black and LGBTQ+/SGL. The Equality Act ensures consistent and overarching protections for all LGBTQ+ Americans, many of whom currently live in fear of discrimination because no such laws exist to protect them in key areas including employment, housing, education, credit, public spaces and services, jury service, and federally funded programs. Supplementing the recent Bostock Decision, the Equality Act would ensure that I cannot be fired because someone assumes or knows that I am same gender loving. The Equality Act acknowledges that LGBTQ+/SGL people should be protected by existing civil rights protections provided by laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act.”
Imani Rupert-Gordon, National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director:
“Today’s historic hearing in the United States Senate illustrates why it is so important for Congress to pass – and President Biden to swiftly sign – the Equality Act. Despite powerful testimony from witnesses including Pastor Edith Guffey, the mom of a nonbinary child, and Stella Keating, a transgender teenager who spoke eloquently about her love for this county and her fears of facing discrimination when she leaves home to attend college, it was clear that anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, particularly aimed at transgender individuals, is still a dangerous reality for many Americans. NCLR looks forward to continuing to work with Congress to pass the Equality Act to make sure that no one faces discrimination in any aspect of their lives simply because of who they are.”
Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center:
“The Equality Act represents a landmark step in the fight against all sex discrimination. The lives of LGBTQ+ women are marked by discrimination at every step, from the class room to the board room to the locker room, and this bill will strengthen the rights of all women to live free of fear from discrimination. This is especially true of transgender women and LGBTQ+ women of color, whose risk for violence and abuse is worsened when we deny them full rights under the law. Our commitment to inclusion of transgender women is inseparable from our commitment to safety, dignity, and justice for all women.”
Brian K. Bond, Executive Director of PFLAG National:
“As a gay man living with HIV, raised in rural America, with a deep faith in God, and taught to have respect for all people, I have to pick and choose which businesses I frequent, where I choose to get healthcare, where I live, work, and travel. When I have no choice, all I can do is hope to be served without discrimination. This is because, like all LGBTQ+ people, I am not protected under current federal law and depend on a patchwork of local laws to protect me. For hundreds of thousands of PFLAGers across the country, the Equality Act represents the opportunity for this country to live up to its promise of equality, liberty, and justice for all.”
Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE:
“Today’s hearing illustrated why Congress must pass the Equality Act, a vital piece of legislation that will legally prohibit discrimination against LGBT+ people. LGBT+ people, especially our elders, should be treated fairly across all areas of life. They should be able to seek the services they need without fear of receiving inadequate care or being turned away.” Full statement can be found here.
Wade Henderson, Interim President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:
“This transformative legislation will ensure that LGBTQ+ people across the country have clear, consistent protections in the public sphere. And the bill will clarify our civil rights laws to strengthen protections for all people — including women, religious groups, and people of color. When all of our rights are protected, we are all better for it.”
Andy Marra, Executive Director of TLDEF:
“Trans youth are under attack across the country. We are heartened that senators will hear directly from a young trans person about the impact their votes will have on her life. As the senators of the Judiciary Committee will hear today, there is no time to waste in passing the Equality Act. Trans lives hang in the balance.”
“The Equality Act is designed to once and for all codify basic protections for transgender people nationwide. Today, Americans in 29 states are lacking explicit, comprehensive nondiscrimination protections. The Equality Act makes crystal clear that LGBTQ+ people are worthy of protection.”
“An overwhelming majority of Americans on both sides of the aisle support nondiscrimination measures for LGBTQ+ people. The House has cleared the way for the Senate to do the right thing and secure those protections once and for all by passing the Equality Act. At TLDEF, we are committed to advancing full and lived equality for transgender people and are working closely with our partners, community members, and elected officials to build momentum for successful passage of the Equality Act. The Equality Act is a crucial step toward achieving true legal equality for transgender people nationwide and its moment is right now.”